National Palm Print System

Repository Available for Law Enforcement Access

Stock image depicting person pressing palm against frosted glass. (From CJIS Link article)

When the FBI launched the National Palm Print System (NPPS) on May 5, 2013, it dramatically improved law enforcement access to palm prints previously stored within local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agency databases. The NPPS repository maintains more than 15 million unique palm print identities and more than 29 million individual palm prints tied to those identities, all of which are available for investigative leads.

Biometric images specialists from the FBI’s Biometric Identification and Analysis Unit’s Palm Services and Analytical Team convert hard copy palm prints from high-priority, high-profile major cases to an electronic format to make them available for latent searches. The collection includes prints obtained from known and suspected terrorists at detainee camps in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places of interest. The team also provides support to various FBI legal attachés in terrorism investigations or special events requiring palm prints for identification or NPPS enrollment.

Currently, 48 states, along with agencies in Guam, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., submit palm prints to the NPPS. Identifications from those submissions have provided numerous successes to our law enforcement partners, including the following two examples.


  • In June 2012, a 44-year-old man’s body was discovered in his driveway in Moore, Oklahoma. Investigators found a pair of palm prints on a truck near the body. A senior criminalist searched the palm prints through the Oklahoma State Bureau of Identification (OSBI) Automated Fingerprint Identification System. However, no national palm print database search could be conducted in 2012, so she was unable to identify the prints.

    Shortly after the NPPS’ deployment in May 2013, the OSBI began a special project to review cold cases for unidentified latent prints suitable for a search through the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) System. In February 2014, the OSBI searched the two latent palm prints from the 2012 Moore case through NGI. After finding no matches, the OSBI added the palm prints to the NGI’s Unsolved Latent File.

    In March 2016, a criminalist from the OSBI’s Latent Evidence Unit received an unsolved latent match notification on the submitted latent palm prints, so she requested palm prints from the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division. A senior criminalist identified the palm prints taken from the crime scene by comparing them to those stored in the NPPS.

    According to court documents, the subject admitted to police that he drove his roommate to the victim’s house, where the roommate and the victim got into a fight. The subject told investigators his roommate repeatedly kicked and stomped the victim while the victim was on the ground. The medical examiner determined that the victim died from blunt force trauma injuries and possible asphyxia due to an assault. However, the subject refused to testify against his roommate, and prosecutors had only the forensic evidence—the palm prints of the subject.

    In January 2018, the subject was formally charged and found guilty of one count of first-degree manslaughter for his role in the victim’s death.

The NPPS repository maintains more than 15 million unique palm print identities and more than 29 million individual palm prints tied to those identities, all of which are available for investigative leads.

  • On November 7, 2016, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) began investigating an incident involving an elderly female victim. She lived alone and was sleeping in her apartment when the suspect pried open her sliding bathroom window and entered the home. The suspect went to the woman’s bedroom and attempted to sexually assault her. The woman resisted until the suspect gave up the assault and demanded money. The victim gave the suspect $26, and he fled through the front door. The woman sustained injuries to her mouth and cuts to her arms and back.

    Detectives investigated the incident until they exhausted all leads. The only possibility for identifying the suspect rested on the analysis of several latent palm prints discovered on the victim’s bathroom windowsill. A search of the LVMPD database produced no matches, so detectives initiated a search through the NGI System. The FBI sent a candidate to the LVMPD forensic scientist, who provided the identity to detectives less than 24 hours after receiving the request. Two days later, authorities took the suspect into custody and charged him with attempted sexual assault, robbery, burglary, and battery to commit sexual assault. On January 9, 2017, the suspect pleaded guilty to felony attempted sexual assault and was required to register as a sex offender. He was sentenced to 8 to 20 years in the Nevada Department of Corrections and lifetime supervision.​

For more information about how your agency can use the NPPS to help further its investigations, contact the National Palm Print System Office at palm_prints@leo.gov or 304-625-5214.