Forensic Databases Paint Shoe Prints and Beyond Forensic Databases by akm33296


									Forensic Databases: Paint, Shoe Prints, and Beyond
by Robin Bowen and Jessica Schneider

About the Authors
Ms. Bowen is the forensic program coordinator for the Forensic                  integrated Ballistic identification
Science Initiative at West Virginia University. Ms. Schneider is a
graduate student in public administration at West Virginia University.          System: iBiS

                                                                               Mantaned by the Bureau of Alcohol,
                                     detectve workng a mssng persons       Tobacco, Frearms and Explosves’ Natonal
                                     case undoubtedly knows how to             Integrated Ballstc Informaton Network,
                                     make the most of databases such as        ths forensc database contans bullet and
                              the Combned DNA Index System (CODIS)            cartrdge casngs that have been retreved
                              and the Integrated Automated Fngerprnt         from crme scenes and test-fres of guns
                              Identfcaton System (IAFIS), but does          found at a crme scene or on a suspect. One
                              he or she know how to nvestgate a pant        lmtaton of ths database s that there must
                              chp, a tre track, an nk samplng, or a        be a suspected gun to make a comparson.
                              pece of glass?                                  Because the database contans nformaton
                                                                               on bullets and casngs—and not on specfc
                              Many government and prvate forensc             guns—a test-fre bullet from a gun must
                              databases can help both law enforcement          be compared to a bullet found at a crme
                              nvestgators and the scentsts who support     scene, for example, to determne whether
                              ther work n the lab. To help spread the        a bullet came from a specfc gun. Any mage
                              word about the exstence of these tools,         of a casng or bullets must be suffcently
                              the Natonal Insttute of Justce (NIJ) funded   clean—that s, be clear, show characterstcs,
                              West Vrgna Unversty to gather the           and have lttle glare—for a comparson to
                              followng basc nformaton.1                    be vald.

                                                           NIJ JourNal / Issue No. 258

How does IBIS work? Techncans use               How does the database work? Pant chps
forensc magng technology to enter bullet       from cars can be compared to samples n
and casng evdence nto IBIS. New mages         the database. Undercoats help to narrow
are correlated aganst data, and techncans      down possble manufacturers. For more
are alerted to possble matches. At that          nformaton, contact the FBI’s Laboratory
pont, a frearms examner uses a comparson      Dvson at 202–324–3000.
mcroscope to perform a manual examna-
ton. For more nformaton, see
                                                   Glass Evidence
 Paint data query: Pdq                             reference database
                                                  Ths database contans more than 700
Mantaned by the Royal Canadan Mounted
                                                  glass samples from manufacturers,
Polce (RCMP), PDQ contans the chemcal
                                                  dstrbutors, and vehcle junkyards. It s
compostons of pant from most domes-
                                                  housed by the Techncal Support Workng
tc and foregn car manufacturers and the
                                                  Group, an nteragency group that ncludes
majorty of vehcles marketed n North
                                                  the U.S. Department of State and the
Amerca after 1973. The PDQ software s
                                                  U.S. Department of Defense. Although t
free to agences that supply a mnmum of
                                                  cannot determne the source of an unknown
60 pant samples per year. The database
                                                  pece of glass, the database can assess the
nformaton comes from the street (more
                                                  relatve frequency that two glass samples
than 60 percent from body shops and junk-
                                                  from dfferent sources would have the
yards) and from manufacturers. In 1998,
                                                  same elemental profle.
RCMP entered nto agreements wth the
German Forensc Insttute and the Japanese
                                                  How does the database work? Two
Natonal Polce Agency, whch resulted n
                                                  plasma mass spectrometers are used
1,500 samples beng added to the database
                                                  to perform an elemental analyss of
each year. Not all manufacturers, however,
                                                  glass. For more nformaton, e-mal
are wllng to dvulge the chemcal compo-
ston of pant used on ther vehcles. If a
partcular sample has not been entered nto
the database from the street, t would not be      treadMark™
possble to obtan a match.
                                                  The number of shoe prnts at a crme
How does PDQ work? Each pant layer—              scene can be so large that the process
an automotve pant job usually conssts of       of mpresson recovery becomes very tme-
four—s examned to determne the spectra         consumng. TreadMark™ s a commercal
and chemcal composton. The chemcal            product that uses four parameters—
components and proportons are coded nto         pattern, sze, damage, and wear—to dentfy
the database. These known samples are             ndvdual outsole mpressons. These are
compared aganst a pant sample from a            then compared wth shoe prnt data from
crme scene or a suspect’s vehcle to search      two sources: suspects n custody and crme
the make, model, and year of manufacture          scenes. A match could yeld the name, date
of a vehcle nvolved n a ht-and-run or other   of brth, crmnal record number, places of
crmnal actvty. For more nformaton, see      nterest, and smlar offenses for possble                               suspects.

                                                  How does TreadMark™ work?
 national Automotive Paint file                   Impressons from a crme scene are
                                                  obtaned usng the current recovery
Ths Federal Bureau of Investgaton (FBI)
                                                  methods of photograph, gel lft, dust lft,
database contans more than 40,000
                                                  and adhesve lft. These are nput drectly
samples of automotve pant from
                                                  nto the analytcal system by hgh-resoluton
                                                  dgtal magng. The same procedure s used

     NIJ JourNal / Issue No. 258

     with an impression of a suspect’s shoe print:     than 5,000 vehicle tires and tire tread
     It is photographed using a high-resolution        patterns, including manufacturer, date
     digital camera, and these impressions (along      of market release, pictorial image, and
     with the offender’s details) are input into the   pattern features. Because manufacturers
     analytical system, where the operator can         sometimes use the same tread, it may be
     measure, analyze, and compare crime-scene         difficult to find the exact make and model
     and suspect images. Both image sources            match of a tire. In these cases, records are
     can be searched within themselves and             linked so that all tires that might match a
     against each other, allowing such images          crime-scene tire mark may be considered.
     to be transmitted to other users. For more
     information, see            How does TreadMate work? The pattern of
     systems.aspx.                                     an unidentified tire mark is assigned a set of
                                                       codes for pattern features, such as waves,
                                                       lines, diamonds, zigzags, curves, and blocks,
      SoleMate                                         which then form the basis of the database
                                                       search. Results are presented in descending
     This commercial database contains
                                                       order of correlation. For more information,
     information—manufacturer, date of market
                                                       contact Foster & Freeman USA Inc., at 888–
     release, an image or offset print of the sole,
                                                       445–5048 or
     and pictorial images of the uppers—for more
     than 12,000 sports, work, and casual shoes.
     Sold on DVD, the product is updated and            Forensic Information System
     distributed to subscribers every 3 months.
     One limitation is that different manufactur-       for Handwriting: FISH
     ers often use the same sole unit. Therefore,      Maintained by the U.S. Secret Service, this
     it may be difficult to determine the exact        database enables document examiners
     make and model of a shoe. The software            to scan and digitize text writings such as
     links such records, however, so that all foot-    threatening correspondence.
     wear that might match a crime-scene print
     can be considered.                                How does FISH work? A document exam-
                                                       iner scans and digitizes an extended body
     How does SoleMate work? The pattern               of handwriting, which is then plotted as
     of an unidentified shoe print is assigned         arithmatic and geometric values. Searches
     a set of codes to isolate basic features, such    are made on images in the database, pro-
     as circles, diamonds, zigzags, curves, and        ducing a list of probable “hits.” The ques-
     blocks. Options, with variations, are             tioned writings, along with the closest
     presented pictorially, which allows an            hits, are then submitted to the Document
     investigator to code features that best           Examination Section for confirmation. For
     match the shoe print. These codes form the        more information, see www.secretservice.
     database search, with results presented in        gov/forensics.shtml.
     descending order of pattern correlation. For
     more information, contact Foster & Freeman
     USA Inc., at 888–445–5048 or usoffice@fos-
                                                        International Ink Library                                   The collection—maintained jointly by the
                                                       U.S. Secret Service and the Internal Revenue
      TreadMate                                        Service—includes more than 9,500 inks,
                                                       dating from the 1920s. Every year, pen and
     Maintained by the same United Kingdom             ink manufacturers are asked to submit their
     company that markets SoleMate, this               new ink formulations, which are chemically
     database contains information on more             tested and added to the reference collection.

                                                             NIJ JourNal / Issue No. 258

Open-market purchases of pens and inks               RxList
ensure that the library is as comprehensive
as possible.                                        Another free Internet database of
                                                    prescription drugs is
How does the library work? Samples are
chemically analyzed and compared with               How does RxList work? As with
library specimens. This may identify the type       PharmInfoNet, the name of the drug
and brand of writing instrument, which can          must be known. Information in the database
be used to determine the earliest possible          may not be current because new drugs are
date that a document could have been pro-           created regularly and new side effects are
duced. If the sample matches an ink on file,        discovered. Search results include patient
a notation is made in the database. The U.S.        summaries; side effects and interactions;
Secret Service generally provides assistance        and links to public health, policy, and eco-
to law enforcement on a case-by-case basis.         nomic information. For more information,
For more information, contact 202-406-5708.         see

 Ident-A-Drug                                        Ignitable Liquids Reference
The Therapeutic Research Center, a private           Collection: ILRC
company, publishes a computer program               Maintained by the National Center for
and book to help identify drugs in tablet or        Forensic Science, this database and associ-
capsule form. To make an identification, suf-       ated liquid repository allows a laboratory
ficient information about the unknown drug          to isolate an ignitable liquid of interest for
must be available.                                  inclusion in an inhouse reference collection.
                                                    Designed for screening purposes only, it
How does Ident-A-Drug work? Data used               parallels—but does not replace—American
for comparison purposes contain codes               Standard Testing Materials requirements for
that are imprinted on tablets and capsules,         an inhouse reference collection. A laboratory
information on color and shape, the national        does not need to adopt the ILRC classifica-
drug code (NDC #), and drug class. Schedule         tion system to use this database.
information is shown if the drug is a narcotic
or in one of the U.S. Drug Enforcement              How does ILRC work? Users enter the
Administration schedules. For more informa-         name of the liquid into the searchable data-
tion, see              base. The database can also be organized
                                                    by classification of the liquid for quick refer-
 PharmInfoNet                                       ence. Users can then purchase samples of
                                                    the liquid. Commercial samples are obtained
This free Internet database contains informa-       directly from manufacturers and distributors.
tion on prescription drugs, including uses,         The products are then repackaged for distri-
marketing and availability, and common              bution using the product name and sent
side effects.                                       to forensic science laboratories. For more
                                                    information, see
How does PharmInfoNet work? To perform
a search, the generic or brand name of the
drug must be known, which may not be pos-
sible if only a portion of the drug exists or the
drug is not marked with a name. For more
information, see

     NIJ JourNal / Issue No. 258

         chemfinder                                    of potental matchng canddates and ther
                                                       correspondng fngerprnts for comparson
     Ths free Internet-based database contans        and dentfcaton. For more nformaton, see
     nformaton from manufacturers on chem- or contact the
     cals, ncludng chemcal structures, physcal     FBI’s Crmnal Justce Informaton Servces
     propertes, and hyperlnks.                       Dvson at 304–625–2000.

     How does ChemFinder work? Searches
     are conducted usng a chemcal name,               combined dnA index
     Chemcal Abstract Servce (CAS) regstry           System: codiS
     number, molecular formula, or weght.
                                                       Ths FBI-run database blends forensc
     For more nformaton, call 800–315–7300
                                                       scence and computer technology nto a
     or see http://chemfnder.cambrdgesoft.
                                                       tool for solvng volent crmes. CODIS
                                                       enables Federal, State, and local crme
                                                       labs to exchange and compare DNA pro-
         integrated Automated fingerprint              fles electroncally, thereby lnkng crmes
                                                       to each other and to convcted offenders.
         identification System: iAfiS                  CODIS uses two ndexes: (1) the Convcted
     Ths FBI-mantaned database contans:            Offender Index, whch contans profles of
                                                       convcted offenders, and (2) the Forensc
     ■   Fngerprnts acqured after arrest at the     Index, whch contans profles from crme-
         cty, county, State, and Federal levels.      scene evdence.
     ■   Fngerprnts acqured through background      How does CODIS work? Searches are
         checks for employment, lcensng, and         performed to fnd a match between a
         other noncrmnal justce purposes (f        sample of bologc evdence and an offend-
         authorzed by State or Federal law).          er profle. Matches made between the
     ■   Latent prnts found at crme scenes.          Forensc and Offender Indexes provde
                                                       nvestgators wth the dentty of a suspect.
     Although IAFIS offers electronc search and       DNA analysts n the laboratores share
     storage capabltes, t has some lmtatons.    matchng profles, then contact each other
     The database contans the fngerprnts of         to confrm the canddate match. For more
     only a small percentage of the populaton.        nformaton, see
     Moreover, to make a comparson, the latent        ndex1.htm.
     prnt must be of suffcent qualty to dentfy
     certan ndvdual characterstcs. For exam-                                          NCJ 219606
     ple, the cores and deltas must be present
     n the prnt to determne the orentaton of
     the prnt.
                                                       1. The nformaton n ths artcle regardng
     How does IAFIS work? The database                    manufacturers and products, ncludng
     receves data electroncally, n hard copy,          Internet databases, s presented for nforma-
     or n machne readable data format. IAFIS            tonal purposes only. The Natonal Insttute of
     accepts, stores, and dstrbutes photographs,        Justce has not evaluated the utlty, accuracy,
     ncludng the results of remote 10-prnt and         or veracty of the data n these databases; no
                                                          product approval or endorsement by the U.S.
     latent searches. These are returned electron-
                                                          Department of Justce should be nferred.
     cally to the requestng agences wth a lst


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