Sacramento’s fingerprint cases backlog

August 21, 2012 - 

Not one month after the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) reported on a fingerprints backlog issue, CBS13 has reported that Sacramento County is struggling just as much to cope with the demands for fingerprint analysis.

A hiring freeze has lead to almost 600 cases being backlogged.

Lt. Jim Ortega, head of the Sacramento’s forensic identification unit, said that the backlog is growing after the county cut 10 fingerprints experts down to seven.

Each fingerprint expert is trained for one year before being able to take on cases. Ortega said even if they hire enough people immediately — which the county plans to do with funding for new hires — the backlog will keep growing, while new hires go through a year of training.

“We’re plugging away as fast as we possibly can,” he said.

“It’s hard to explain to (the victims), ‘We’re very sorry, but your crime is going to take a back seat to somebody else’s armed robbery,’” Ortega said. “Each case may entail a lot of work.” That’s because more often than not, computers can’t make the match, he said.

As CBS13 reported, every print requires a human eye, and often still a magnifying glass, to scan, analyze and identify patterns.

The importance of fingerprints lies in identifying and finding a match for criminals promptly.

How safe do you feel knowing that hundreds of fingerprint cases are put on hold while criminals roam the streets?

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About T'ash Spenser

T’ash Spencer writes full time for She has 15 years experience in the field of regional planning and earned her Master’s of Science in Regional Development Planning and Management from the University of Dortmund, Germany. Follow her @tashspencer1.