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Back to Archives | Back to December 2007 Contents 

Advances & Applications

Sagem Morpho AFIS
Sagem Morpho AFIS Identifies 1989 Murder Victim and Suspect in Colorado

The Jefferson County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Office used an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) developed by Sagem Morpho, Inc., to identify a murder victim and arrest a suspect nearly 17 years after the crime was committed. Investigators cracked the unsolved case in 2006 through positive AFIS identification of one partial fingerprint taken from the corpse in 1989.

Upon reviewing the evidence for fresh leads, Jefferson County Investigator Cheryl Moore decided to resubmit the partial fingerprint from the unidentified body to the statewide AFIS maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Although the print had been compared against fingerprint databases in Colorado and other states, the Sagem Morpho AFIS, with advanced matcher and coder technologies, had been purchased in 1993 and upgraded several times since then. The CBI AFIS contains nearly 2 million ten-print records and 20,000 unsolved latent records. Thirteen Colorado police departments access the CBI AFIS via remote workstations, and another 40 live-scan systems around the state electronically submit ten-print records.

Moore requested assistance from Vicky Spelman-Lang, a criminalist in the Sheriff’s Office, to prepare the print submission. Spelman-Lang applied image enhancement functions in the AFIS to generate three submissions of the single print for comparison against the CBI archive. In each submission, the criminalist marked three different sets of points, or print bifurcations and ridge endings, for the AFIS to use in finding a match with a fingerprint on file.

“The way Vicky submitted the print to the AFIS was crucial to our success,” said Moore.

Moore and Spelman-Lang received positive hits on the first and second submissions, both identifying Jane Doe as Lisa Kelly, who had been missing since release from jail in 1988. Moore received the 2006 Colorado Homicide Investigator of the Year Award for her work on this and other unsolved cases.

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Birmingham Police Department Chooses New World Systems’ Public Safety Software

The Birmingham, Alabama, Police Department (BPD) has signed a contract to license New World Systems’ integrated Aegis/MSP law enforcement records management system to replace its aging homegrown system, in place since 1978, which no longer meets the large department’s needs. “Our current mainframe system has created a very labor-intensive process that is just not efficient,” said Captain Ray Tubbs.

Captain Tubbs and his team selected New World Systems’ Microsoft-based MSP product, which brings a high level of user-friendly technology. New World’s integrated records management system will provide the BPD with easy access to accurate information in its system while eliminating redundant data entry for departments. Using New World’s solution, officers will have access to the critical historical data they need.

“Most of the new staff is not familiar with a mainframe type of system,” said David Allen, network systems administrator for the BPD. “New World’s Microsoft-based product really provides the ability to conform to how we want something done rather than having employees conform to the software itself.”

Birmingham joins several other Alabama customers, including nearby Hoover and the capital city of Montgomery, which will be critical to meet the goal of information sharing. The BPD is the state’s largest police department, with 800 sworn officers, 71 communications and dispatch staff, and more than 250 civilian positions. New World’s solution will provide Birmingham’s officers with more access to up-to-date information from their system.

“I see this as part of my legacy as chief,” said Chief Annetta W. Nunn. “We believe that by putting the right tools in the officers’ hands, by giving them access to critical information, and then by sharing that information within our department and across multiple jurisdictions, we can improve the safety of our personnel and the public.”

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Rapid DNA Testing Pilot Program Pioneered by Washington State and Orchid Cellmark

Orchid Cellmark, a provider of DNA identity testing services, and the Washington State Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) have entered into a contract to implement a new pilot program for rapid DNA analysis in stranger rape cases. The first application of this program led to the identification and apprehension in less than one week of a suspect charged with raping an 11-year-old girl at her Olympia, Washington, home.

The new Washington state program, made possible by special congressional funding, is designed to ensure that DNA rape kits involving stranger rapes are analyzed within 30 days. U.S. DNA analyses can typically take six to 12 months, and an estimated 220,000 backlogged DNA rape kits in the United States have never been analyzed at all.

In contrast, the rapid DNA analysis program identified this alleged rapist in less than a week, leveraging good investigative work by the Olympia police force, which produced a DNA sample from a suspect that Orchid Cellmark quickly identified as belonging to the rapist. This same DNA analysis also ruled out an innocent neighbor who had initially been charged with the crime but was exonerated and set free within days under the new program, not the months that could have been required in the past.

“This early success in our stranger rape DNA project illustrates how effective a rapid DNA analysis program can be,” said Don Pierce, executive director of WASPC, sponsor of the program. “We are pleased that Washington State’s congressional delegation has helped us become the first state in the nation to implement this innovative program. By partnering with Orchid Cellmark on this project, we hope to make Washington a safer place to live.” ■
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From The Police Chief, vol. 74, no. 12, December 2007. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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