Federal Way's MorphoTrak helps crack cold cases

From staff reports:

The King County Sheriff’s Office announced a new capability of its Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which will allow county authorities to use palm prints as a way of identifying potential suspects in cases. According to a news release, the new AFIS, a MorphoTrak product, is proving to be a success.

Federal Way-based MorphoTrak is considered an industry leader in the field of biometrics.

Biometrics refers to technology used in identifying people through fingerprints, palm prints and other physical characteristics. Earlier this summer, it was announced that some police departments were slated to start using a facial recognition application on smartphones, a product that MorphoTrak helped develop.

Scott Tompkins, a veteran homicide detective with the sheriff’s office, said the inclusion of palm prints into the regional AFIS is an exciting development.

“Not every murder investigation contains the possibility of DNA technology,” he said. “The new Palm AFIS database has allowed us to develop leads in homicide cases that were at a dead end before.”

The county touts that the new technology can give detectives new suspect names in homicide, rape, and kidnapping cases. The regional AFIS system has a database of over 690,000 fingerprints, according to the county. With the inclusion of the palm technology, it’s now possible for an examiner to take a fraction of a latent palm print, search the new AFIS, and “perhaps get a hit on a known palm print.”

This will help up the rate of closure for detectives because approximately 30 percent of all prints lifted at crime scenes are either partial or full palm prints.

According to the county, the regional AFIS system is funded through a property tax levy, which was renewed by voters in 2006. It is set to expire next year.


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