SCOTT SIMON, host:
Sometimes, I get a little personal in these essays. I've talked a bit about my childhood, being a husband, father, cat owner and a Cubs fan. But I have something to confide this week that makes me blush. I have light fingerprints. I discovered this a few years ago in the welter of tests we had to take to adopt two daughters from China.
The people running fingerprint tests at the immigration office would grimace when they saw mine, as if beholding a run over squirrel on the side of the road. Then, they'd tell me, sorry, light fingerprints. Eventually, I had to have 10 fingerprint tests before they could piece together a full set for examination, like the shards of some ancient Egyptian pot.
A U.S. congressman had to vouch for my identity. He said he'd been tempted to tell them I was D.B. Cooper, the man who parachuted into the woods from a hijacked plane with $200,000.
This week, I applied for that special prescreen security program for frequent air travelers called CLEAR. Examiners certified my passport and birth certificate. They've searched for any criminal records, outstanding debts or court judgments. They scanned my retinas, which in any James Bond movie is usually enough to throw open the door at the headquarters. And they beamed, just fine, Mr. Simon. Just a little while longer, Mr. Simon. I could tell.
I was just a step from becoming one of those favorite few who can breeze through airport security lines like Devon Hester with a kickoff return. Then, they said they had to take my fingerprints. After about an hour of mashing my digits against a glass plate and people in blue suits frowning and shaking their heads, they handed back my paperwork and announced, sorry, light fingerprints.
One of the examiners put his own thumb onto the plate to show me, I suppose, what a real man's fingerprints look like. The grooves in his thumbprint were heavy and thick. I bet you could grow corn between the ridges. His thumbprint looked like the crop circles in a Mel Gibson movie or an aerial photo of the Los Angeles freeway system.
My thumbprint looked as plain as the Bonneville Salt Flats. The National Biometric Test Center at San Jose State University estimates that about two percent of the population suffers from what I'll call light fingerprint Syndrome. Seem to most commonly occur among longtime farmers, factory workers and bricklayers - none of which applies to me. I have never even been close friends with a brick.
What do those of us who suffer from LFS have to do to win a little recognition from the world? Form support groups, have telethons, get Bono to organize a concert, have the Reverend Jackson chant, maybe my fingerprints are light but I still got a lot of bite.
This past Tuesday was April 15. I notice the Internal Revenue Service didn't have any problem identifying me.
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History Of Fingerprinting Essay
Crime investigators have the job to solve crime and find the suspect responsible. Sometimes the offense is very difficult to solve, but with the right pieces of evidence and tools, the investigation can be answered a little more easily. The use of fingerprints is a main tool used at crime scenes. Investigators find these at the actual crime scene and analyze them at the lab to determine whom the prints belong to. Each person has an individual print which is why this is a very useful piece of evidence. Sir Francis Galton found that the prints could be categorized into different types as well as different groups. The research of fingerprints from decades before has shaped the way detectives identify suspects and victims.
Fingerprint usage dates back to the 1800s. Sir William Herschel used the prints as signatures on civil contracts, before they were found useful towards crimes (History of Fingerprints Timeline, 2012). A British surgeon, Dr. Henry Faulds, wrote about using fingerprints for personal identification. He first looked at prints on clay pottery and studied the ridges and patterns that they had made in the clay. In 1891, Juan Vucetich suggested to start fingerprinting criminals to keep the prints on record. The following year, Vucetich identified a print from a woman who killed her two sons. Investigators found her print and were able to correctly match her identity. Charles Darwin’s cousin, Sir Francis Galton, wrote and published the first book about fingerprints. He wrote about how every individual has a unique print by the certain traits of each fingerprint (History of Fingerprints, 2012). The popularity of fingerprints grew greatly in the United States in the early 1900s. Police departments and the FBI began to use them as personal identification methods and then eventually the prints were stored. The storage area contained cards with the fingerprints on them because of the lack of technology. Since the 1990s, a computer system called the, Automated Fingerprint Identification System, was created to store all of the files of prints in an internet database so it would be much easier to find a file that was needed (History of Fingerprints, 2012). This database is worldwide and does not just include fingerprints, “but corresponding criminal histories; mug shots; scars and tattoo photos; physical characteristics like height, weight, and hair and eye color; and aliases”(The FBI). According to Olivia Judson, “finger-based fingerprint remains the most widely used method of identification… databases of fingerprints are far larger (ten times larger, in the FBI's case) than those of DNA”(Judson, 2008, p16). These conclusions found from multiple forensic scientists, has paved the way for many solved crimes.
Before the use of fingerprints became so popular to identify criminals, a man named Alphonse Bertillon formed a system of identification that measured different body parts and compared the measurements with others, to determine whom the...
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