Forensic Identification Services

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Forensic Identification Services

AFIS

The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) Section is responsible for maintaining and operating a computerized fingerprint search and storage system. The system used at FIS is Omnitrak provided by Motorola. The system automates the capture, search and storage of both crime scene and arrestee fingerprints and palm prints.

Fingerprints of charged persons are captured using a Livescan system which uses a laser scanning device that replaces ink. These scanned fingerprints are then electronically sent from police stations in Toronto to FIS and then on to the RCMP after descriptors and mugshots are merged from the RICI system. Livescan is a real-time identification system (RTID) allowing for the quick examination of fingerprints taken from arrested persons and compared to the known offender database with results returned to the police station printing the person within 5 minutes.

Forensics officer reviews fingerprint evidence

The Toronto Police were the first agency in Canada to go to real time fingerprinting in 2005. The accompanying palm database was also the first established in Canada allowing palms to be searched which has proved very successful as 30% of crime scene prints are palms.

The Section is staffed by civilian Fingerprint Examiners who, when fully trained, are capable of presenting expert fingerprint identification evidence in a court of law. The fingerprints (and palm prints) of every person charged with an indictable offence by the Toronto Police Service are taken under the authority of the Identification of Criminals Act. These records form an extensive database which allows FIS to provide the following:

  • Prompt searching of fingerprints of arrested persons to determine whether or not the person has any previous record with the Toronto Police Service or any other police agency in Canada. The results of such a search may reveal that the person has falsely identified him/herself to the police.
  • Searching of fingerprints taken from unknown deceased persons.
  • Search of latent finger/palm prints found at the scene of a crime. These are searched against similar arrestee prints and unsolved crime scene prints. Crime scene prints which are not identified are stored on the database and are automatically compared to every new set of arrestee prints entered into the system.

Forensics officer reviews fingerprint evidence

Beyond local and national searching capabilities, members can also initiate international fingerprint searches via the RCMP and Interpol, often resulting in arrested persons being identified as known in foreign countries.

Members of the AFIS section also manually compare crime scene fingerprints with those of suspects submitted by the investigative units and squads.

Forensics officers review fingerprint evidence

Members of the Section made 1,736 crime scene identifications in 2006. To date, there are over 122,000 crime scene prints and over 584,000 arrestee ten-print records (that's over 5,840,000 single fingerprints) in the AFIS database.