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Support Operations

A fingerprint being taken on a machine.

The Support Operations Bureau of the Division of Criminal Investigation is a very diverse work group comprised of 29 nonsworn employees who work in the Records and Identification Unit, the Criminal History Dissemination Unit, the AFIS/ABIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System/Automated Biometric Identification System) Unit, and the Administrative staff who perform clerical, inventory, budgeting, purchasing, and logistical functions for the entire DCI.

The Support Operations Bureau staff proudly provides behind the scenes administrative support to the DCI leadership team and the DCI Special Agents working criminal investigations in all 99 counties in Iowa.   The Support Operations Bureau staff is responsible for collecting, maintaining, and providing accurate and up to date information vital to the other Divisions within the Department of Public Safety, to our local and Federal law enforcement partners and to the general public.

Automated Biometric Identification System-Fingerprinting
Sheet of fingerprints.

As of June 18, 2019, the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) included over 862,229 10-print cards and nearly 19,287 latent prints. ABIS is available to all criminal justice agencies throughout Iowa for use in criminal investigations. During fiscal year 2018, 63,700 10-print "hits" were made via ABIS.

A 10-print card is a card usually 8” x 8” which has a permanent set of an individual’s fingerprints on it. There are 10 individual blocks, one for each finger and are numbered 1 through 10, starting with the right thumb and concluding with the left little finger. These prints, referred to as “rolled impressions”, represent each finger which must be rolled from one side of the fingernail to the other side of the fingernail. Below the 10 blocks are two blocks for printing four fingers simultaneously and two blocks for printing the thumbs. These prints are called “plain impressions” and are used to make sure that the sequences of the fingers were printed correctly in the rolled impressions.

Above the fingerprint blocks are spaces for descriptive data of the individual such as name, sex, race, height, weight, a date of birth, place of birth, social security number, arresting agency, reason for arrest, and other identifying information. There are two types of 10-print cards, one is criminal which is used when an arrest is made, and the other is civil which is used for anything other than criminal. A “hit” in ABIS occurs when a print lifted from a crime scene or a fingerprint taken at the time of arrest matches one in ABIS database. The main ABIS computer is located in DCI headquarters in Des Moines. Additionally there are seven Expert Latent terminals at criminal laboratories located throughout the state, thereby permitting easy access by Iowa law enforcement officials.

Fingerprint expert scanning finger.

Livescan sites were introduced in FY 1999. Livescan is a method of sending required arrest fingerprint cards electronically from a police agency to the central site at DCI. There are currently 72 Livescans located throughout the state. One set of fingerprints can be rolled with as many as 99 copies being able to be printed. The addition of Livescan terminals at various locations around the state has helped expedite the process of creating and updating criminal history information maintained by the Division. In addition, there are 33 Card Scan locations throughout the state. A law enforcement agency is able to process their bookings using black printer's ink and scan the arrest card. The arrest card is then sent to the state electronically allowing the DCI to expedite the process of criminal cards from non-Livescan agencies.

Contact Fingerprints Office

Phone: 515.725.6054


Administrative Support and Transcription

The Administrative Support section staff perform clerical, inventory, budgeting, purchasing, and logistical functions for the entire Division.

The Transcription Section transcribes dictation regarding criminal and non-criminal investigations from multiple types of media, (i.e., CD's, DVD's). The dictations are submitted by Special Agents of the DCI. The "original" transcribed cases are maintained within DCI Headquarters and date back as far as 1939. These reports are critical documents for prosecutors in criminal cases and for the Racing and Gaming Commission for the purposes of maintaining integrity in Iowa's Gaming Industry. For fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, the Transcription Section transcribed/proofed more than 2,100 pieces of dictation.

Records and Identification

The Records and Identification Unit is the central repository for all Iowa criminal history records and is responsible for maintaining and tracking all criminal history record information in Iowa.

This information is used in a variety of critical areas, including sentencing determination, parole and probation recommendations, issuance of weapon permits, and decisions by prosecutors. Noncriminal justice agencies also use criminal history record information for background checks on a daily basis, including day care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, etc.

All criminal history records in Iowa begin with a fingerprint card. If no fingerprints are taken and submitted to the DCI, there will not be a criminal history record on the subject for a particular arrest or taking into custody in the case of a juvenile. Criminal history records contain information regarding arrest, court dispositions, custody data and movement within Iowa’s correctional institutions.

The Records and Identification Unit includes three Criminal History Auditors, each responsible for conducting quality assurance reviews and providing training in 33 counties throughout the State.

The Criminal History Auditors facilitate training for law enforcement agencies, county attorneys and clerks of court to ensure criminal history information is submitted to the Department of Public Safety in accordance with the Code of Iowa. This includes confirming information is submitted in a timely, accurate and complete fashion through established audit practices.

Why are dispositions important?

  • Dispositions ensure the availability of the most current information regarding an individual’s criminal history record.
  • Dispositions are used for criminal justice purposes – law enforcement, courts, probation offices, sentencing, firearm checks, etc.
  • Used for noncriminal justice purposes – employment, licensing security clearances, facility access, visa applications, etc.

Iowa Criminal History Statistics:

787,153 – total number of automated records in the Iowa computerized criminal history database
10,237 – total number of felony arrests that were reported during calendar year 2018

What Crimes are Fingerprinted?

A criminal history starts with the arresting agency. All criminal histories begin with a fingerprint card. If no fingerprints are taken and submitted to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), there will be no criminal history on the subject for that arrest, or taken into custody in the case of a juvenile.

Simple Misdemeanors:

  • According to Iowa Code 690.2, fingerprints are required upon conviction of a simple misdemeanor. If a defendant is convicted by a court of this state of an offense which is a simple misdemeanor subject to an enhanced penalty for conviction of a second or subsequent offense, a serious misdemeanor, an aggravated misdemeanor or felony, the court shall determine proceedings leading to the conviction and if not, shall order that the defendant be fingerprinted and those prints submitted to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
  • Some of the more common simple misdemeanors that will be required upon conviction are:
    • Public Intoxication
    • Harassment
    • Theft 5th Degree
    • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
    • Domestic Abuse – simple, is an exception. Fingerprinting all domestic abuse charges at time of arrest would ensure the charge would be on the criminal history no matter the disposition of the court. This can be used as a prohibitor for obtaining a gun permit.
  • Juveniles CANNOT be printed on any simple misdemeanor charges.


Serious, Aggravated Misdemeanor and Felony Charges:

  • All are required at time of arrest to be fingerprinted. Any cite and release cases have a greater chance of not being printed at time of conviction; therefore, not be found on an individual’s Iowa criminal history record.
  • Juveniles SHALL be printed on all serious and above charges at time of being taken into custody.

Probation Violations and Parole Revocations:

  • The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation does not keep fingerprint cards for probation violations or parole revocations due to they are not original charges. They are actually violating court requirements.

Contempt of Court Warrants:

  • These would not be printed due to they should have been printed on the original charge at the time of arrest. If you know they were not printed, print them for the original charge and submit the original charge arrest fingerprint card to the DCI. This will guarantee the charge will be on the individual’s criminal history record.

Another key reason to submit fingerprint cards at the time a person is arrested or a juvenile is taken into custody, is that prints may hit on latent prints submitted or also-known-as (AKA) identities can be learned and added to the subject’s criminal history record. Wanted people have been discovered this way. A very important field on the fingerprint card for officer safety is the caution field – suicidal, known to be armed/carry weapon, know to assault officers. If no prints are submitted, those cautions will not be added to their criminal history record, if there are any.

The core function of tracking criminal histories is the first line of defense for public and officer safety. The DCI receives numerous requests for criminal histories for a variety of reasons. Peace officers make up a small percentage of those requests. Judges and pre-sentence investigators use criminal history information when making bond and sentencing decisions. Day care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, housing complexes, factories and countless other businesses request criminal history information from the DCI on a daily basis. If a subject applies for a job with a day care center and no criminal history exists showing this subject has been convicted of a theft, the day care center has no way of knowing they should be aware of that individuals past troubles.


Criminal History Dissemination Logo

The Criminal History Record Dissemination Unit was established as a result of changes to the Code of Iowa in 1996, for the purpose of providing Iowa criminal history record information to the public. The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is the central repository for criminal history record information for the State of Iowa. This means, by law, all arrest and disposition information (with the exception of most simple misdemeanors) is to be forwarded to the DCI by all law enforcement agencies and clerks of court in the state. The criminal history records we maintain are all supported by fingerprints for identification. Although we only require a name, date of birth and gender for a record check request, we have the ability to utilize fingerprints we maintain to verify identity when necessary. For a fee, the Criminal History Record Dissemination Unit provides Iowa criminal history record information to various entities, including businesses, schools, daycares, healthcare facilities and law enforcement agencies.

In addition to providing State of Iowa criminal history record information, the Criminal History Record Dissemination Unit also facilitates the process for organizations, not individuals, requesting fingerprint-based national criminal history record information through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division (FBI/CJIS). In order to obtain national criminal history record information through the FBI/CJIS, an organization must either obtain statutory authority through state legislation or must qualify under an established federal program with approval from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Criminal History Dissemination Unit.

Criminal History Request Form

Criminal History Billing Form

Missing Persons and Unidentified Bodies

Missing Persons

The Missing Persons Information Clearinghouse was established July 1, 1985, within the Department of Public Safety. It provides a program for compiling, coordinating and disseminating information in relation to missing persons and unidentified body/persons. Housed within the Division of Criminal Investigation, the clearinghouse assists in helping to locate missing persons through public awareness and cooperation, and in educating law enforcement officers and the general public about missing person issues.

Missing Kids Information

Unidentified Bodies

The State of Iowa has six unidentified bodies on file. These cases have been entered into the National Crime Information Center Computer System for possible matches against the missing person file. However, if the individual has never been entered as missing by any agency there will be no match. The purpose of placing these cases on the DPS website, is to reach a more diverse audience that might have knowledge about the identity of any one of these individuals.