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New study has found that fingerprint examiners make extremely few errors

The Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice released a self-funded study that explores the accuracy and reliability of decisions made by latent fingerprint examiners, which found that examiners make extremely few errors.

The study was authored by the Miami-Dade Police Department Forensic Services Bureau, fingerprint identification section and is entitled “Miami-Dade Research Study for the Reliability of the ACE-V Process: Accuracy & Precision in Latent Fingerprint Examinations“.

The study found that even in situations where examiners did not get an independent second opinion about the decisions, they were incredibly accurate.

In cases where their decisions were verified by an independent reviewer, examiners had a 0% false positive, or incorrect identification, rate as well as a 3% false negative, or missed identification, rate.

“The results from the Miami-Dade team address the accuracy, reliability, and validity in the forensic science disciplines, a need that was identified in the 2009 National Academies report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” said Gerald LaPorte, director of NIJ’s Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences.

To calculate the results of the study, the research team tested the accuracy of 109 fingerprint examiners from 76 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies spanning across the United States.

Examiners were given various comparison challenges that ranged in levels of difficulty.

Additionally, the study measured how often individual examiners repeated their own decisions and how often different examiners arrived at the same results.

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