Identification: from crime scene to courtroom

 

Using increasingly sophisticated biometric identification, police investigators can work faster than ever. Right at the scene of the crime they pick up the evidence that will pass muster in a courtroom.

Crime Scene investigators in New York City
USA dollars in hands

Money and drugs, proven links

"Not too sad to be retiring Jack? Tell me, before you leave, what was your most satisfying case?" Looking at his now former colleague, Captain Jack McRoy reaches deep into his memories. "Undoubtedly the Diaz case, where we were able to dismantle a major drug trafficking network in short order. And you know how? Using biometrics!"

It all started one summer evening… After a crazy chase of a speeding car, the driver abandoned his car in the underground parking lot on Roosevelt Avenue. In the trunk was a bag full of money. Our first thought was a bank job, but it proved to be a little more complicated than that...

 

Fingerprint analysis
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Instant fingerprint ID

We found fingerprints on the bag. They were scanned, and then using our MorphoTablet we sent them to an automated fingerprint identification system back at HQ that compared them to all the fingerprints in the police and FBI databases. "In just a few minutes, we learned that they were from a certain Arturo Diaz," recalls McRoy. "It's incredible. Now we're working in near real time, nothing like the methods available when I started my career."

 

Betrayed by his passport

The videos from the surveillance cameras, also seized by the police, confirmed that Diaz was in the parking lot at the time of the incident. An all-points bulletin went out for his arrest. Police officers went through the city and surrounding areas with a fine-tooth comb, and called in some favors from their informants. Without any results after three days, more men were assigned to the case. That didn't help either, and HQ was beginning to lose hope.

 

In the end, Diaz was arrested three weeks later, as he was about to take off for Mexico. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) identified him through his passport. Using terminals that scan all ID docs, the TSA compares the biometric data on these documents with its databases to detect counterfeits. It can also compare the passenger list with "wanted" lists, to stop any suspect at a border.

Iron-clad evidence

"Given all the evidence against him, Diaz admitted he belonged to a drug cartel. His conviction was upheld in a court of law." As always happens in these cases, give and take negotiations followed. In this case, a shorter prison term in exchange for information that would help them dismantle at least part of the network. McRoy recalls with a smile, "Diaz helped us get all the way to the number 2 man in the cartel. Our colleagues in the Narcotics brigade were delighted. And I was proud too, because we got our man pretty quickly!"

> Credits
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© Piotr Redlinski / CAPA Pictures / Safran
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