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Just Science Podcast: Just Identifying Fingerprints Through Photographs

NCJ Number
Karen Oswald
Date Published
December 2020
1 page

This sixth episode of the Case Studies season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Karen Oswald, Senior Evidence Specialist with the Suffolk County Police Department in New York, who discusses methods for identifying fingers and hands captured in evidentiary photos.


Background information for the interview indicates that as cellphone and camera technologies continue to improve, so does the quality of the images they produce. As more criminals carry smartphones, they incriminate themselves with photos they have taken. While investigating a case, Karen Oswald used photos from a suspect's cell phone to identify his hands as critical evidence in proving his guilt. In this interview she discusses techniques and challenges for identifying prints captured in evidentiary photos. In the case discussed, the suspect had used his cell phone in taking pictures of his crimes of child exploitation. In some of the close-up photos, images of the offender's hands and fingers were sufficiently sharp to obtain prints and match them to the suspect's prints.