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District of Columbia Fingerprint Digitization Project

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $842,400)

The goal of the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) is to improve the Nation's safety and security by enhancing the quality, completeness, and accessibility of criminal history record information and by insuring the nationwide implementation of criminal justice and noncriminal justice background check systems. BJS provides direct financial and technical assistance to the states to improve criminal history and other related records and to build their infrastructure to connect to national record check systems both to supply information and to conduct the requisite checks.

Under the 2015 NCHIP, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) of Washington, DC will use funds to complete a digital conversion of its hard copy fingerprint and thumbprint gallery card library (approximately 1.3 million cards) to electronic files in AFIS. The purpose of this task is to facilitate accurate electronic exchange of fingerprints and responses by ensuring that data previously captured in hard copy is included in state and federal files. Additionally, this will provide MPD the ability to automate the entry and updates of data in their system as well as those files with the FBI.

The Gallery Card is a card that accompanies every arrestee on every arrest. These cards contain criminal history data and are supporting documentation for the Tenprint Fingerprint Card. The Tenprint Fingerprint Card has a retention period of 80 years. By comparison, the Gallery Card functions a de facto rap sheet – containing a listing of arrests for every individual arrested in the District of Columbia. The Card also contains all descriptors of an individual as well as a thumbprint for identification purposes. The Gallery Card Library is used as a significant positive identification tool, in the event of an outage of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). Digitizing the Gallery Card Library will ensure that both biometric data (fingerprint images) and demographic data (name, date of birth) are available electronically through the AFIS and MPD's Computerized criminal History (CCH).


Date Created: August 27, 2015