General Policy Information
Latest Revision Date: 11/20/2013
Title 1 - Department Structure and Function
Title 2 - Department Employment
Title 3 - Employee Welfare
Title 4 - Human Resources
Title 5 - Employee Conduct
Title 6 - Arrests, Search and Seizure
Title 7 - Evidence and Property
Title 8 - Use of Force
Title 9 - Equipment and Uniforms
Title 10 - Police Facilities & Security
Title 11 - Detainee Management
Title 12 - Department Information Systems
Title 13 - Vehicle Operations
Title 14 - Emergency Operations
Title 15 - Primary Investigation
Title 16 - Patrol Operations
Effective Date: 3/27/2003
To establish the policy and procedures for locating, lifting, and processing latent fingerprint evidence from crime scenes and to direct the procedure for obtaining and handling fingerprints from known individuals.
The Seattle Police Department places a high value on fingerprint evidence because it has the potential to link a single individual to the crime scene. The Department will endeavor to identify, collect and analyze this evidence in accordance with established standards and procedures, in order to ensure that the value of the evidence is not diminished.
A. All sworn employees of the Department will possess the knowledge and training necessary to properly process crime scenes for fingerprints.
B. The Department will provide fingerprint-processing equipment to employees required to process crime scenes. Sworn employees shall maintain an adequate supply of this equipment, and have it available for immediate use.
C. The Department will employ Latent Print Examiners and will provide them with specialized training and equipment to process unique and difficult crime scenes or evidence that is beyond the scope of training and expertise of the average sworn employee.
D. The Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory Division’s Physical Evidence Handbook shall guide the processing, collecting, handling, storage, identification, and labeling of all fingerprint evidence by Department employees.
II. Crime Scene
A. Officers should always seek to identify, preserve and collect fingerprint evidence as a routine course of the investigation of any crime or suspected crime.
B. Whenever officers question the existence of fingerprint evidence, they should err on the side of caution and process the scene for fingerprints.
C. Officers will not process scenes that require immediate follow-up investigation or any other incident that may require a follow-up response. In these instances, officers shall preserve potential evidence for collection by follow-up or other personnel.
D. Department Latent Print Examiners may be requested to respond by an on-scene sergeant, if the circumstances warrant a response.
1. The on-scene sergeant should make the request for the print examiners via Communications.
2. Communications will notify the Latent Print Supervisor.
3. The Latent Print Supervisor will screen the response and direct examiners to respond to the scene, as appropriate.
E. Department personnel processing crime scenes for fingerprints shall make reasonable efforts to clean up any residue from their evidence collection efforts.
F. Elimination prints should be taken from the victim(s) whenever possible. These printcards should be clearly labeled and submitted with any latents recovered.
III. Obtaining Prints from Known Individuals
A. Certain case investigations require the collection of fingerprints from a known individual. If the individual agrees to voluntarily provide his or her fingerprints, the officer or detective should call the 10-print supervisor at 684-5514 (24 hours) and respond to the 1st floor of the Justice Center. A 10-print technician will assist with the collection of a fingerprint sample.
B. If the individual does not agree to voluntarily provide his or her fingerprints, a search warrant must be issued by the court. Contact a follow-up sergeant or prosecuting attorney for assistance. Once a warrant has been received, contact the 10-print supervisor and proceed as outlined above.