Students learning how to lift fingerprints

Brian Pleitez

Crimson Chronicle Reporter

Students in Christina Dempsey’s forensic science class have started experimenting with fingerprints and learning the different patterns that people tend to have. 

Fingerprints are crucial pieces of evidence that can change the whole verdict of a case. Learning how to lift fingerprints is an important skill that has to be learned as a forensic scientist. Whenever there is a crime there will always be some sort of trace back to the person who committed the act. 

Fingerprints are unique to everyone, however, they can be examined to link potential subjects to a case. Not only do fingerprints help make links in an investigation but whenever a person is arrested, they take their fingerprints and see any past criminal history that can give clues about the subject.

After some instruction, the students began the lab. There were eight surfaces that they needed to lift their fingerprints from. They had some oil and charcoal powder with different brushes to make a fingerprint on different surfaces and then lift them off with tape. 

“It was confusing at first but after getting the first one print off, it became a little easier,” said SAS senior Matthew Arriaga. “ I was able to get all my prints off but I did see some people struggling with putting too much charcoal on theirs so they would lift.”

Lifting fingerprints is not an easy process by any means. The more oil is present in your fingers the more visible they will be. By brushing the print with some charcoal powder you begin seeing the print take color and shape. However, this is where a lot of the students struggled because they were either putting too much or too little. 

Forensic Scientists who are experts in their field use these techniques all the time and are often the missing pieces that prosecutors need. To this day the examination of fingerprints has helped convict many killers, and to free the wrongly accused people.

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