AFIS


Written By: Ehsan Jahandarpour

The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) is a national automated fingerprint identification and criminal history system maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). IAFIS provides automated fingerprint search capabilities, latent searching capability, electronic image storage, and electronic exchange of fingerprints and responses. IAFIS houses the fingerprints and criminal histories of 70 million subjects in the criminal master file, 31 million civil prints and fingerprints from 73,000 known and suspected terrorists processed by the U.S. or by international law enforcement agencies. Employment background checks and legitimate firearms purchases cause citizens to be permanently recorded in the system. For instance, the State of Washington mandates that all applicants seeking employment in an inpatient setting that houses vulnerable minors (such as children who are mentally challenged, physically or emotionally ill) are fingerprinted and entered into IAFIS as part of their background check in order to determine if the applicant has any record of criminal behavior. Fingerprints are voluntarily submitted to the FBI by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. These agencies acquire the fingerprints through criminal arrests or from non-criminal sources, such as employment background checks and the US-VISIT program. The FBI then catalogs the fingerprints along with any criminal history linked with the subject. Law enforcement agencies can then request a search in IAFIS to identify crime scene (latent) fingerprints obtained during criminal investigations. Civil searches are also performed, but the FBI charges a small fee and the response time is slower. The FBI has announced plans to replace IAFIS with a Next Generation Identification system, developed by Lockheed Martin in partnership with Safran.