Found on all human fingertips as a means to grip rough surfaces, particularly the branches of a tree, fingerprints have remained crucial throughout the transition from arboreal to rural, suburban, and urban living. As a biometric means of identification utilized thoroughly throughout the past century, fingerprint databases cover an expansive range of information.
Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS)
Fingerprinting is essential for law enforcement. Friction ridge analysis, which includes fingerprints, palm prints, and footprints, is useful for identifying unknown deceased individuals, as it is reliable, rapid, and cost-effective. The use of postmortem impressions to identify decedents centers on the use of Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) technology.
AFIS technology originated with law enforcement agencies, and, while they remain the primary users of such systems, its usage has spread to various disciplines. Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems are biometric computer systems that allow forensic examiners to identify recovered fingerprint impressions to encoding, digitizing, and searching against those in fingerprint record databases.
ANSI/ASB Best Practice Recommendation 007
While this technology simplifies the means of scrutinizing databases for fingerprint matches, searching can still be a tumultuous process. A new American National Standard, ANSI/ASB Best Practice Recommendation 007, First Edition 2018: Postmortem Impression Submission Strategy for Comprehensive Searches of Essential Automated Fingerprint Identification System Databases, defines the best practices for medicolegal authorities to appropriately search observed postmortem fingerprint impressions through AFIS fingerprint databases.
ANSI/ASB Best Practice Recommendation 007 is useful for law enforcement agencies, as well as the medicolegal community, and it should be met in the absence of specific guidance. It provides guidance to medical examiners, coroners, and investigators in submitting recorded postmortem impressions for comprehensive searches of essential automated fingerprint identification system databases.
A number of factors affect the successful search of a fingerprint through an automated fingerprint system. However, ANSI/ASB Best Practice Recommendation 007 is based on the idea that that one of the most important factors is assuring that the fingerprint is searched through appropriate antemortem fingerprint databases.
Therefore, this best practice deals primarily with recommendations for searching records. However, it also details background information, important foundational principles, and the fingerprint recovery process from human remains.
ANSI/ASB Best Practice Recommendation 007 is monumental because it aids in forensic identification. Despite what you see in movies or TV, AFIS databases exist at the local, state, and federal levels of government, so tackling the searching process of these various databases can be a challenge. This recommendation is also significant because it is the first American National Standard published by the AAFS Standards Board (ASB).
The AAFS Standards Board was established in 2015 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). It was accredited by ANSI in 2016. ASB is purposed with providing accessible, high quality science-based consensus forensic standards. It consists of Consensus Bodies (CB), and ANSI/ASB Best Practice Recommendation 007 is produced through ASB’s Disaster Victim Identification Consensus Body.
You can view and download ANSI/ASB Best Practice Recommendation 007, First Edition 2018: Postmortem Impression Submission Strategy for Comprehensive Searches of Essential Automated Fingerprint Identification System Databases free from ASB’s website.
ANAB Forensic Accreditation
Fingerprint records are essential for law enforcement, but forensic testing, calibration, and/or inspection services can be provided by various other organizations, such as academic and public health organizations.
The ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) accredits forensic service providers and forensic inspection services to instill confidence in the forensics arena. Considering the range of organizations that offer forensic services, the disciplines for which ANAB offers forensic related accreditation are multitudinous.
You can learn more about the different ANAB forensic accreditation programs here.