Physical Evidence Handbook

AFIS Specialist

AFIS Specialists operate the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), providing identification information to all law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin. This system serves as the central repository for fingerprint identification records relating to persons arrested throughout the state.

AFIS is a computer-based system for reading, cataloging, searching, matching and storing fingerprints, palm prints, latent prints and related demographic data. It has the necessary software and hardware to acquire, digitize, process, store, and retrieve fingerprint and palm print images from ten print cards, latent evidence cards, and live image scans. The AFIS compares fingerprints and palm prints and identifies possible matches based on minutiae associated with ridge endings, bifurcations and associated demographic data. This system interfaces with the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), providing Wisconsin law enforcement agencies access to nationwide and international criminal justice information.

AFIS 10 print record
AFIS Ten Print Record

The AFIS Specialists process fingerprints and palm prints of subjects arrested or taken into custody from booking facilities throughout the state. These fingerprint images are captured electronically by either a livescan or card scan device, which creates a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) record. This NIST record is then transmitted electronically to the Gateway Service Provider (GSP), which passes information back and forth between different databases maintained by the Department of Justice (DOJ) during the processing of fingerprint records. The AFIS Specialists process fingerprints and palm prints for the purpose of establishing positive identification and creating an individual's criminal history record. AFIS Specialists perform quality control on images and finger sequence errors for all fingerprint records that are rated poor. AFIS Specialists perform verification of all possible matches for both ten print-to-ten print searches and ten print-to-unsolved latent searches. All ten print and palm print arrest records are searched through AFIS against the unsolved latent print database in an attempt to identify suspects that leave their prints at crime scenes.

10 print card
Ten Print Card

The DOJ's original AFIS was installed in 1993. A major upgrade was completed during the summer of 2003, and currently is the repository for over 1-million fingerprint records. AFIS processes approximately 45,000 tenprint, latent print, palm print and Fast-ID identification and verification transactions per month.

Fingerprint and palm print data entered into the state's AFIS and processed by the AFIS Specialist is shared statewide by the AFIS remote sites at the Crime Laboratories in Madison, Milwaukee and Wausau, the Madison, Green Bay, Racine and Milwaukee Police Departments as well as the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office.

Pattern Types
AFIS Pattern Types