The Identification Unit is staffed by two highly trained Crime Scene Specialists, (CSS). Cumulatively, they have over 50 years of experience and have received, on average, 1500 hours of training.

The ID Unit provides crime scene investigation services such as:

  • Latent fingerprint search, processing and recovery, using standard fingerprint dusting powder, chemical enhancement, and use of alternate light sources
  • Evidence recovery and processing.
  • Crime scene interpretation, for example, blood spatter analysis.
  • Crime scene photography; close-up, digital photography, video photography, overall scene photography, and tool mark impression.
  • Latent print analysis, fingerprint comparison, computer entry of latent fingerprints, and submission to the California "Cal-ID” computer system.

Annually, the ID Unit handles over 800 ID assignments, recovering thousands of latent fingerprint lifts and taking 2,500 photographs.

Crime Scene Specialists conduct evidentiary searches, photograph, and recover evidence at locations where felony crimes have occurred. If you are the victim of a burglary, for example, a CSS will search for fingerprints at the point at which the suspect entered your residence and any other surfaces the burglar may have touched. The CSS will normally use black fingerprint powder and, if prints are located, the CSS will lift the print using fingerprint tape.

The specialist will then place the print onto a glossy paper card. If the investigation reveals a suspect who has previously been arrested, the CSS will be able to compare the tiny variations in the lifted fingerprints with prints taken from the suspect. Those prints are maintained by the Alameda Police Department, the Alameda County Consolidated Criminal Records, and the FBI.

If there is no suspect, the specialists will frequently ask everyone in the residence to provide "elimination prints” so that the lifted fingerprints can be compared with persons who live in the house. Those prints that can be matched to residents can then by excluded from further comparison work.

In cases where good quality fingerprints have been located, the Alameda Police Department has a variety of options to attempt to identify suspects. A CSS can enter prints into the in-house COGENT system, Cal ID, and the FBI's national computerized database. The Alameda Police Department's Identification Unit is one of the most productive in Northern California and provides unparalleled service to the citizens of Alameda.

Currently, the Alameda Police Department's Identification Unit makes more criminal identifications on latent fingerprints recovered from crime scenes than all other law enforcement agencies within Alameda County combined.

The Identification Unit can be reached at (510) 337-8423.