Palm Print database big addition in solving crimes

ALBANY (WALB) - A new tool will soon be available to Georgia law enforcers to help solve crimes.

Not only will law officers use fingerprints to catch outlaws, thanks to new technology, they'll use palm prints, too.

150,000 latent prints are housed in the AFIS Unit at the Dougherty County Jail.

"AFIS stands for Automated Fingerprint Identification System," said Sgt. Karen Parr who has 17 years experience in the department.

When investigators dust for prints at crime scenes from around south Georgia, the latent copies often find their way into a computer housed in a secure office at the jail.

"Then we try and determine the value of those prints and then run those through AFIS, or the I-AFIS, to see if we come up with a match," said Parr.

Those prints can be matched through the FBI database or to that of a potential suspect. Parr has testified in many a murder trial presenting fingerprint evidence.

But it's a person's palm print that is often left behind.

"About 30%," said Parr. "We get a lot more palm prints than finger prints," she said.

Matching them though, isn't always that easy. Beginning Monday new palm print technology will come into play to fix that.

"When we would compare palm prints, it was a one-to-one comparison. Now we're going to be able to build a database so we can search it like fingerprints," she said.

And there are palm prints on file here from decades ago. The AFIS upgrade will mean access to the FBI data which can be monumental in solving cases both new and cold.

"Most felonies we do palm prints, with the new system, I hope we can palm print everybody that comes through," she said.

The AFIS upgrade is funded by federal and state crime grants and will be installed over the weekend and will be operational Monday.

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