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Welcome to the latent print examination process map

This tool presents the sequence of steps in a latent print examination, presented as an interactive process map.

It allows you to browse the process map to see details and links to helpful related content associated with steps in the process.

It also provides controls (available to the left of the map), that allow you to create an individual highlighted path as you navigate through the process, to show and record the course of your own investigation.


The friction ridge examination process is commonly referred to as ACE‐V: Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation, and Verification.


An initial information‐gathering phase in which the examiner studies the unknown print to assess the quality and quantity of discriminating detail present. The examiner considers information such as substrate, development method, various levels of ridge detail, and pressure distortions. A separate analysis then occurs with the exemplar.


The side‐by‐side observation of the friction ridge detail in the two impressions to determine the agreement or disagreement in the details


The examiner assesses the agreement or disagreement of the information observed during Analysis and Comparison and forms a conclusion.


In some agencies is a review of an examiner’s conclusions with knowledge of those conclusions; in other agencies, it is an independent re‐examination by a second examiner who does not know the outcome of the first examination.

This map does not cover latent processing techniques or how to use AFIS systems including unsolved latent searching.


This process map was originally created by the NIST/NIJ Expert Working Group on Human Factors in Latent Print Analysis and published in 2012. The map was then updated by the OSAC Friction Ridge Subcommittee to describe the various steps of the ACE‐V process and the several different ways they are currently practiced by the friction ridge examination community. The OSAC Friction Ridge Subcommittee does not support or endorse all the different ways the steps of the ACE‐V process are currently practiced as depicted by the process map. As the OSAC Friction Ridge Subcommittee continues to develop standards and best practice recommendations related to the friction ridge examination process, this map will be updated to reflect a single standardized process that is recommended for the friction ridge community.

The intended uses of this process map are to facilitate discussions about key decision points in the ACE‐V process, help the research and standard’s development community be able to cite the specific latent print activity that their efforts address, and enable laboratory managers to better understand how their protocols compare with other laboratories.

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