Latent Hit of the Year

Overview of the FBI Latent Hit of the Year, awarded annually to an outstanding latent examiner or officer who solved a major violent crime by using the FBI's IAFIS database.

Video Transcript

The FBI Latent Hit of the Year is awarded annually to an outstanding latent examiner or officer who solved a major violent crime by using the FBI’s IAFIS database.

When she was murdered, she was just a day or two shy of her 90th birthday. It was a horrible murder that happened 30 years ago. We had no physical evidence, we had no witnesses. All we had was the photograph of a bloody latent fingerprint.

They are walking among us, in big cities and small towns; but hiding a dark secret. They are criminals who have not been caught.

A case is considered cold when we have no further leads to follow up on. But there is a tool you can use to help solve them – an exceedingly simple procedure that is helping to capture more criminals every day. It’s a pretty good indicator that you’ve got your guy.

IAFIS. The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. A national database maintained by the FBI, available to every law enforcement agency in the country. Fingerprints still matter, because they’re something that have a legacy, they have a history. IAFIS has about 65 million subjects on file today, and it grows by the thousands, 8 to10 thousand, every day. Local, regional, and state law enforcement agencies have helped build IAFIS from the ground up. The IAFIS database is built from all of our law enforcement partners across the country submitting their fingerprint data to us. The result of this cooperation -- is convictions. Detectives all over the country are using these resources to solve crimes that were unsolvable. And with current new technologies, the Next Generation Identification program, or NGI, is taking IAFIS to the next level.

We’re in the process of upgrading IAFIS to make it even more robust. For example, expand IAFIS to include palm prints and even provide more leads to investigators working crime scenes across the country. Every year, the FBI gives the Latent Hit of the Year award to an examiner or officer who used FBI IAFIS to catch a criminal. Those are unsung heroes. And one of the things we’ve tried to do with the Latent Hit of the Year is to identify those heroes, and give them some recognition for solving crimes, crimes that in some cases go back several decades.

You just don’t believe that after 30 years, you’re going to get an ID on a latent print. The FBI IAFIS system is very resourceful, and is easy to use. Using special software available free from the FBI, you submit the prints. You get back up to twenty possible matches. One of them might lead you right to the perpetrator. Gloria PasqualI helped to find this murderer 37 years later. No matter where you live, every submission to IAFIS expands your search to the entire country. 

Criminals don’t care about crossing state lines. When you utilize IAFIS, you’re widening your dragnet to all points of the country. It doesn’t matter how long ago they did it. It doesn’t matter how far they’ve run. But it does matter when they’re caught…and served justice.

The primary purpose of IAFIS is to identify bad guys. IAFIS did unlock this entire case. Killers are being sent to prison. Tap into the power of IAFIS.

To learn more about using IAFIS latent services, go to

To submit for the latent hit of year award, send an e-mail to

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