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View Full Version : Fingerprint comparison in 1988



FabulaScribe
10-28-2014, 09:17 PM
I posted this in an existing thread, but maybe I should have started a new one (?).

My character is a police officer in 1988 in Florida. He needs to compare a known print on a drinking glass to a few letters and envelopes that may or may not have prints (he doesn't know).

Can anyone tell me approximately how long this would take?

Also, is it something that would be done on the premises at the station where he works? (He is in a relatively small town.)

Lastly, would I be using correct phrasing if he said to his colleague, "How soon can you run these for prints? I'm looking to do a comparison."?

Thank you!

ironmikezero
10-28-2014, 10:29 PM
In '88 comparisons were done by individuals with trained expertise (AFIS wasn't launched until '99). Most departments had appropriately trained personnel (even if it was a collateral duty). It would take slightly longer to "lift" the prints than it would to compare them to a known sample. It could all be done within a couple of hours at his station.

www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/fingerprints_biometrics/iafis/iafis (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/fingerprints_biometrics/iafis/iafis)

Your phrasing (assuming your character is referring to the letters and envelopes) is okay. That would be typical dialogue in that time frame

FabulaScribe
10-28-2014, 10:40 PM
Thank you so much for the info! Now I can finish writing this scene. :-)

My question mark was outside the closing quote mark because I was ending my own question. I've got my character making a statement that he is looking to do a comparison. (Between the glass and the letters/envelopes.) Would he use the phrase "run these for prints" if he's referring to the letters and envelopes and the glass as well? (So they can be compared?) I just wasn't sure if "run" actually means to compare to a database. I would be using it to mean "dust" or "lift" or "look for" prints. Is that correct?

ironmikezero
10-28-2014, 11:02 PM
"Run" is fine... The tech would know what to do. LE dialogue tends to be terse; superfluous verbiage is often considered the mark of a rookie.

'Sorry about the question mark thing... I should have read your post more carefully, but I've had my second cup of coffee now so it's all good.

FabulaScribe
11-03-2014, 03:41 AM
Thank you again, ironmikezero!

I have a couple other questions about police work and investigative-related things from 1988. I'll start a new post for them.