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What are Fingerprint Kits?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Images By: Linda Mcpherson, Luis Louro, Kevin Chesson, Official U.s. Navy Page
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Fingerprint kits are kits which contain the materials necessary to identify fingerprints and to collect them so that they can be used in analysis. Forensic technicians often carry fingerprint kits in the bags they take to the field, and they are also kept in law enforcement agencies for the purpose of working in the lab. Various commercial versions are available as well, primarily as novelty items for people interested in the art and science of fingerprinting.

While many people are familiar with the concept of fingerprints and the fact that they can be used in identification, many are not aware that collecting usable fingerprints from a scene is actually a bit complicated. Fingerprints can be pulled from a wide variety of materials, with skill, but the collection process can damage or destroy fingerprints, which eliminates the possibility of trying again if a mistake is made. Fingerprint kits contain a number of tricks of the trade which can be used in fingerprinting.

A kit can contain powder which is used to bring up latent prints, along with strips which can be used to lift fingerprints from surfaces. Gloves, to prevent contamination, are also kept in a fingerprint kit, along with tools like brushes for applying powder, and other instruments which an individual forensic technician may find useful. Ideally, technicians prefer to lift prints in the lab, collecting items which can be fingerprinted for processing and only fingerprinting large items which cannot be moved from the scene.

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The term “fingerprint kit” is also used to refer to a mail order form which can be used to collect fingerprints. In this context, fingerprint kits are sometimes used by parents who want their children to be on file with law enforcement in the event of an abduction or a similar matter. Having up to date photographs, fingerprints, and other identifying information can be helpful when trying to find a missing or abducted child, and some police stations hand out fingerprint kits free of charge or hold fingerprinting days for local children.

Fingerprint kits for novelty use often have basic supplies with simple directions so that people can full fingerprints from surfaces which hold them well. They may also have magnifying glasses which can be used to compare fingerprints, and some contain booklets about the history and practice of fingerprinting. Novelty kits may include some of the same fingerprinting materials used by professional forensic technicians.

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Discuss this Article

Sara007
Post 4

If you have any kids that are interested in forensic sciences, thanks to television and movies, you can actually buy little investigators kits in toy stores. These investigators kits usually come with things like mock police tape, magnifying glasses, and a kit to lift fingerprints. Who knew they would make fingerprint kits for kids to use?

I think the neatest thing about these kits is that they really help kids get a feel for what law enforcement does and also gets them interested in the sciences. While things on TV maybe glamorized, the shows on air can still be a great way to get kids interested in careers they may have never normally thought about.

Mae82
Post 3

I remember my mother had a fingerprint kit that was handed out by the local school board back in the 80's. The kit was pretty basic at the time and was pretty much a sheet with a space for your photos and prints, practice sheet and a little inkpad.

I remember reading the instructions when I found the kit some years later and was surprised at how detailed it was. It showed you the proper way to roll the prints onto the paper and what everything should look like when finished. It even had a cute cartoon character giving the lessons, which I imagine was to make the kids seeing it feel a little better. My mom still has my fingerprints on hand from when I was small. I wonder if the pattern is still identical, but just bigger?

Agni3
Post 2

I love the little fingerprint kits both of my kids have. I think they were given to me shortly after they were born, but we waited a little while to fill them out.

You can put their prints on a cardboard sheet for safe keeping, and you also take a small lock of their hair and put it in a small container. That way if anything were to ever happen and your child went missing you would have both their prints and DNA readily accessible.

However, it’s important to make sure the cards and things are well taken care of, because they could actually be pretty useless if they get damaged.

Eviemae
Post 1

You know what they never show you on the police shows when the sexy cops are lifting the homicide committer’s prints off of that elusive object that he forgot to wipe free of evidence? They never mention the way the people who have to clean that powder up is cursing while they do so.

I was on an Explorers team when I was a kid, and we worked closely with local law enforcement. The cops taught us how to do basic law enforcement duties; like lifting prints.

And it was really cool, until we realized that somebody had to clean up all of that black powder. Can you guess who it was?

That stuff gets everywhere, and it is a pain to try to get up. Plus, the fact that it is so dark makes sure that if any is left behind it is very noticeable.

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