Latent Prints and Footwear
The Latent Prints and Footwear Unit examines items of evidence using a variety of physical and chemical processing methods to enhance and visualize both latent prints and footwear impressions.
Latent print analysis is the examination of friction ridge impressions left behind on a surface by the friction ridge skin on a person’s fingers, palms, or feet. Because friction ridge skin is highly discriminating and persists in the same pattern throughout a person’s lifetime, questioned friction ridge impressions can be compared with known standards in an effort to identify a person as having touched an object or exclude a person from having left a particular impression.
Additionally, questioned friction ridge impressions can be searched in the Wisconsin Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and FBI Next Generation Identification (NGI) to attempt to identify the source of the impression.
Footwear analysis is the examination of questioned footwear impressions left behind on a surface due to a shoe, boot, etc. impacting a two-dimensional or three-dimensional substrate and transferring characteristics and/or features onto it. These questioned impressions can be compared to submitted known footwear standards to establish identity, exclusions, or associations.
The WSCLB eliminated tire track analysis from its scope on January 1, 2016. For more information please see this announcement.
**New Footwear Investigative Lead Service**
The Wisconsin State Crime Laboratories are excited to announce a NEW footwear investigative lead service at the Madison Crime Laboratory.
If no suspect shoe standard is located, footwear impression evidence may now be submitted to the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratories for a footwear investigative lead search. Potential footwear investigative leads can be located through a search of the SoleMate® FPX database, the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratories’ footwear standard reference collection, as well as a number of online resources. A footwear investigative lead search can yield information about a shoe’s possible make(s) and model(s) which may provide the investigator with valuable leads that would otherwise go unknown.
What and how to submit impressions for a footwear investigative lead search:
Items of physical evidence, or digital images, that contain questioned footwear impressions can be submitted.
- Submit physical items or images on electronic media directly to the Madison Crime Laboratory.
- Email digital images (18 MB size limit) and a completed Transmittal form to:
Latent Print Analysis
- Chemical & physical processing of submitted evidence for questioned friction ridge impressions
- Comparing questioned friction ridge impressions with known standards to identify or exclude individuals
- Searching questioned friction ridge impressions against the Wisconsin repository of known friction ridge standards (AFIS) and the FBI’s repository of known friction ridge standards (Next Generation Identification – NGI)
- Generating reports based on the results of friction ridge examinations and providing expert testimony on reported findings
- Providing assistance with identifying unknown deceased individuals
- Assisting law enforcement agencies with cold cases
- Chemical & physical processing of submitted evidence for questioned footwear impressions
- Comparing questioned footwear impressions with known footwear standards to identify, exclude, or associate the footwear
- Generating reports based on the results of footwear examinations and providing expert testimony on reported findings
Footwear Investigative Lead Searching
- Providing the possible make(s) and model(s) of the footwear that made a questioned impression in a timely manner to aid in the collection of known footwear
- Generating reports based on the results of the investigative lead search
For questions regarding Latent Prints and Footwear, refer to the contact information for the lab in your service area.