Ownership of a Searchable Toner and Printing Ink Library was transferred to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Forensic Laboratory Jan. 30.
Created in partnership between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate and the Ames Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, the Searchable Toner and Printing Ink Library database system provides the HSI Forensic Laboratory and other federal, state, local, tribal and international law enforcement agencies with the ability to identify and analyze printed evidence by consulting an archive of known print media samples.
Steven Daugherty, unit chief of the HSI Forensic Laboratory, explained that, although the technology is still being validated and tested, the potential capability that the library brings to ICE fills a very important technology gap needed for linking fraudulent documents.
"The advent of this library is an important step to achieving the ultimate goal of assisting law enforcement officers in the rapid identification and linking of sophisticated counterfeit documents," he said. "Once mature, this technology will allow us to better combat the production and use of fraudulent documents that are oftentimes used by criminal organizations."
According to Dr. Kai-Dee Chu, a program manager of the Resilient Systems Division of DHS' Science and Technology Directorate, "The casework associated with printing inks and toners continues to expand, and this library makes forensic document analysis possible across law enforcement laboratories. It will assist law enforcement officers to rapidly identify suspected fraudulent documents and link such items with comparable documents associated with other criminal incidents, locations, materials or individuals."
According to Chu, the library has an ink and toner database that can be used to identify fraudulent documents by tracing their origins.
"This project gives law enforcement previously unsearchable data that will help officers more effectively combat travel and identity document fraud," said Chu. "The transition to ICE is the first step in rollout of the database to the broader law enforcement community."
This searchable database has improved matching times from weeks to minutes. "There was no such forensic database for printing inks and no systematically established methodologies to rigorously analyze fraudulent documents," Chu said. "The Searchable Toner and Printing Ink Library enables identification of suspected samples with much higher confidence."
In addition to attendees from ICE, there were forensic scientists from the U.S. Secret Service, National Institute of Justice and FBI who participated in the ceremony.