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Cold cases could be solved with new fingerprint tool: RCMP

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Local Mounties have got their hands on a new $350,000 fingerprint detector far more sensitive than traditional techniques — it can even find prints on clothing and fabric — that holds the potential to solve cold cases.

According to a report from Surrey police Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, the new technology can also detect prints on "exhibits that have been submerged in water, even if they have been submerged for many years."

It's called vacuum metal deposition and works by using tiny metal filings to stick to residue found on fingerprints.

The process, according to the RCMP, is quick — just 15 minutes, typically — and can be photographed immediately.

"This technology is far more sensitive than traditional methods of fingerprint development and as a result has been extremely successful in recovering fingerprints in a number of cold cases where traditional development techniques have failed," Fordy said in his report.

The equipment needs a dedicated room for housing and it's being proposed by Fordy to be placed at the main Surrey detachment. He used one example where a 17-year-old Alberta homicide was recently solved using an older model of the new system.

"This new fingerprint detection technology will assist RCMP and other law enforcement agencies from across the country with identifying suspects in criminal investigations," Fordy said.  

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