Baltimore criticized for delays in forensic biometrics, federal tribal program expands
Fingerprint biometrics remain the most widely used modality for forensic investigations, and two developments in the United States indicate the growth of databases to support them, as well as the problems that may arise for them. A backlog of evidence affects a biometric fingerprint system in Baltimore, while a federal criminal investigation database is expected to receive more support from the state’s native tribes.
The Baltimore Police Criminal Lab has come under fire after admitting to keeping a large amount of unprocessed biometric fingerprint data from crimes while working on a backlog of data in order of importance, writes the Baltimore Sun.
Testing of some of this biometric data has been postponed due to the non-violent nature of the crime being investigated, particularly property crimes. This biometric evidence could be used to exonerate falsely accused people as well as convict suspects, says Ken Phillips, supervisor of the lab’s fingerprint section.
Concerns have been raised by several in the city, including City Councilor Mark Conway who accused the lab of failing to test valuable evidence. Retired fingerprint analyst Roy Michael Jones echoed the criticism, saying, âIf you’ve had a burglary in your home in the past three or four years, the chances of getting results are zero.
The latent printing unit performs 3,400 tests per year, according to Kendall T. Jaeger, head of the forensic science and evidence services unit, which is three times the national average, although the lack of staff was cited as the cause of the backlog. Jaeger says the lab triage approach “provides prioritization, organization and systematization of what had been, at best, a messy business process.”
The Baltimore Police Department currently resolves 3.6% of reported property crimes, according to police department data.
Indigenous tribes join Department of Justice forensic biometrics program
Twelve Federally Recognized Tribes Added to the United States Department of Justice Tribal Access Program (TAP) for National Crime Information, in order to collect more data, including biometrics, in national crime information systems for the purpose of preventing and illegal activities and solving crimes.
TAP, which now comprises 108 tribes, has been managed by the DOJ since 2015 and acts as a vehicle to provide tribal governments with the ability to access, enter and exchange data with national crime information systems, including those managed by the FBI Criminal Justice Information. Services Division (CJIS) and States. This data includes information on missing persons, convicted offenders and fingerprint-based records checks carried out for non-criminal purposes.
Part of the program includes training as well as software and workstations to process fingerprint biometrics, take photos, and submit information to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS) systems.
“Increasing tribal access to criminal databases is a priority of the Department of Justice and this administration, and essential to many efforts by tribal governments to strengthen public safety in their communities,” said the Minister of Justice. Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.
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