Fingerprinting Unit 2


Unit 2 Objectives

1. You will learn how to safely obtain fingerprints

2. You will learn how to obtain sufficient fingerprints

3. You will learn how to accurately complete a fingerprint card

Safety Precautions


STEP 1: Make sure that the subject is thoroughly searched

STEP 2: Remove your weapon and secure it in a lockbox

STEP 3: Check for any material or object lying in the vicinity that could possibly be used as a weapon by the subject

STEP 4: It is also advisable to have another officer in the vicinity if you anticipate that the suspect may become hostile

Obtaining The Fingerprints

Obtaining a complete set of acceptable fingerprints and accurately completing the print card information is a task that will be presented to you as a law enforcement officer on a regular basis throughout your career. It is critical that you know the proper technique for taking acceptable fingerprints.


The following equipment is used to take rolled and plain fingerprints:

1. A table top, stand, or working surface approximately 40 inches high. The inking surface should be at a sufficient height to place the subject's forearm in a horizontal position when the fingers are being inked.

2. A cardholder for standard fingerprint cards.

3. An inking plate made from either metal or glass.

4. A rubber roller (used to spread the ink thinly and evenly on the plate).

5. Standard 8"x8" fingerprint cards.

6. Cleaner and towels to remove the ink from the fingers of the subject being fingerprinted and from the equipment.

7. Black issued fingerprint ink.


1. Inspect the print slab and ink roller to ensure both are clean and free of any debris.

2. Place 2 SMALL dabs of fingerprint ink on the back portion of the inking slab.

3. Place the roller in the ink and apply the ink to the front portion of the slab. Use the roller to spread the ink thinkly. Overinking is one of the most common problems involved with taking fingerprints.

4. Place the fingerprint card in the cardholder.


One of the primary aspects to the success of making a good fingerprint rests on the control you have on the subject's hand and fingers.

1. Inspect the subject's hands.

  a) If the subject is wearing jewelry and you feel it may interfere with the printing process, have the subject remove these items.
  b) Have the subject wash and dry hands thoroughly 

2. The subject should stand in a relaxed position in front of the cardholder

3. Advise the subject to relax and to refrain from attempting to assist you. It will be helpful to have the subject look at some distand object and not their hands.

4. With the thumb and index finger of your right hand, grip the subject's first digit below the second joint. With the thumb and index finger of left hand, reach across and grasp he subject's digit at the end of the nail. Use the other fingers of your hand to control movement of the subject's hand.

5. Place the subject's digit on the inking plate. Roll the digit from nail edge to nail edge. The thumbs are rollined in or toward the subject's body and the fingers are rolled out or away from the body.

6. Make sure that the digit is evenly inked.

7. The inked digit is then rolled onto the fingerprint card, in the appropriate box for that particular digit. Make sure to roll the digit on the fingerprint card in exactly the same manner as it was inked.

NOTE: Follow the same procedure for all 10 rolled impressions.

The correct amount of pressure to be exerted in inking and recording rolled impressions is determined largely through practice and experience. If too much pressure is appled, the prints will be smudged. Conversely, if too little pressure is used, the prints will be too faint.


To complete the fingerprinting process, you will need to obtain plain impressions (meaning NOT rolled as you did above) from the subject:

1. Align the fingerprint card so that the spaces provided for the plain impressions are centered in the cardholder.

2. Reroll the ink on the slab, addming more if needed.

3. With you right hand, grasp the subject's hand across the top, having him/her extend and join together all four fingers. Press their fingers down on the inking plate WITHOUT rolling.

4. Lift the four inked fingers from the slab and place them in the proper area on the fingerprint card. DO NOT ROLL!! Repeat this process with the subject's other hand.

5. Next, grasp the subject's thumb and place it directly on the inking plate without rolling. Place the inked thumb in the proper box on the fingerprint card. Record subject's other thumb in the proper location.

6. When all impressions have been taken, remove the card from its holder and check the prints for clarity and sequence.


Once the printing process is correctly completed, it will be necessary for you to complete the informational portion of the card. The following instructions should be helpful in such completion.

SECTION A (boxes 1-4)

Section A covers the basic information pertaining to the subject i.e..Name, Date of Birth, Race, Gender, fill in these boxes accordingly.

SECTION B (boxes 5-9)

Section B covers the printers information and station/agency information including your signature, badge/shield number, date the subject was printed, who reviewed the card (supervisor), and the agency name.

SECTION B con't (boxes 10-14)

The remaining portion of Section B is information provided by the subject, such as, his/her signature and complete address.


Section C is the area where the fingerprints were obtained. *This section should already be completed*

SECTION D (boxes 15-27)

Section D will include more personal information about the subject being printed i.e..Name, Date of Birth, Race, Gender, Height, Weight, Hair Color, Eye Color, Driver's License Number, Social Security Number, Place of Birth, Any scars, marks, tattoos, amputations etc..

SECTION E (boxes 28-37)

Section E will include all of the arrest information such as Charge, Arrest Number, Level of Offense etc...

SECTION F (boxes 38-44)

Section F includes the prosecuting agency, court assigned, warrant information, and date of arrest

Activity 2

For Activity 2, you will divide into your previous assigned groups. Each of you will practice printing each other and filling out your fingerprint cards.


As a class, we will discuss the activity. We will analyze some of the print cards that were completed in the activity, and determine which ones would be sufficient to submit in a real life scenario.

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