HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. - The Hendersonville Police Department is trying something new to help make neighborhoods safe. Hendersonville is one of fewer than a dozen departments have been chosen to test an FBI finger print database.
Over the years the art of lifting a finger print has changed very little. Police still dust the surface and lift the print. The end goal is still the same: find the person it belongs to.
"It's like taking two road maps. You take them side by side and you have your known standard and then your latent lift and you compare them and literally it's like taking two transparencies and putting them on top of each other," said Detective David Harrell.
For years, Detective Harrell has sent finger print evidence to the TBI. The TBI compares the prints to others in a data base and sends back the results.
Harrell said the process works, but it's a little slow.
"Unfortunately, they have such a back log that by the time we submit, it's a great deal of time before we get responses back," Harrell said.
Investigators just started participating in an FBI pilot program designed to speed up the process. Investigators send fingerprints directly to the FBI.
The prints are compared to the fingertips of 68 million people in the agency's data base.
"We can get that information back a lot faster than the TBI can provide," Harrell added.
In one case it was just 15 minutes.
While the TBI provides an actual suspect, the FBI sends the investigator a list of potential suspects. It's up to Harrell to analyze the FBI results and see if he can get a match.
"One person on the list may be dead in 1932. One may be in the penitentiary in Washington, DC and the other one may be living out on Elm Street," Harrell went on to say.
But that might be the suspect they're looking for.
It's a little more work, but the potential is there to solve crimes faster and help keep neighborhoods safe.
The FBI pilot program is designed for smaller police departments who don't have their own latent examiners.
The Metro Police Department has examiners who compare prints in the city's data base. Metro also sends prints to the FBI, but only on an as-needed basis.