The Sheriff’s Identification Unit (SIU) performs a number of critical services for the citizens of the County of Santa Clara. As well as providing support services directly to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, SIU also provides fingerprint comparison and identification services to the other Police Departments and Law Enforcement Agencies across the County. Notable end users of SIU’s services include the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Medical Examiner – Coroner’s Office, and other agencies outside of the County. The SIU perform an integral role in contributing to the public safety of the citizens of this County.
SIU’s primary responsibility is the analysis, comparison and evaluation of finger and palm prints obtained from crime scenes – known as “latent prints” – for the purposes of identifying the source of them. SIU process in excess of a thousand latent print cases per year, developing investigative leads for Detectives and Attorneys. SIU staff routinely produce scientific reports and provide latent comparison evidence for the local and federal court systems, and are often required to testify in court as to their findings.
SIU also performs the core function of confirming the identity of arrestees for all policing agencies in Santa Clara County. At the time of criminal arrest, an arrestee’s finger and palm prints are taken electronically on machines called “Live Scans”. These arrest prints are known as “ten prints”. Ten prints are searched and stored in the Santa Clara County Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) database. SIU is responsible for the searching, accurate identification, and database maintenance of AFIS for all ten prints collected within Santa Clara County. Santa Clara County’s AFIS receives over 60,000 criminal bookings per year.
The third key service that SIU provides to the community is the identification, via fingerprints, of deceased persons for the Santa Clara County Office of the Medical Examiner – Coroner. This crucial function is particularly important for deceased persons whom are indigent, have no available next of kin, are homicide victims, or whom are otherwise not viewable due to trauma. SIU identify more than 600 deceased persons for the Medical Examiner - Coroner every year.
SIU members additionally process exhibits using chemical development and enhancement techniques in order to image latent prints, and may attend crime scenes when required to assist in developing and enhancing latent prints. SIU staff possess a wealth of specialized knowledge, training and experience in order to perform these vital functions.
The citizens of Santa Clara County can expect an exceptionally high standard of work product from SIU. The unit has been accredited to an international standard (ISO 17020) since 2018, and requires its examiners to obtain individual certification from the International Association for Identification as Certified Latent Print Examiners (CLPE’s) as part of their training. SIU’s staff are actively involved in the scientific community - serving on boards, lecturing on various topics, and providing training across the United States. SIU members are often looked at as industry leaders and are well respected in their field. SIU provides vital services to the community that support and promote public safety, and the citizens of Santa Clara County can be confident in the reliability and effectiveness of those services.