Forensic Science Event

Fingerprint Collection and Analysis

Updated on January 9th, 2023
Guidelines PDFScorecard PDFExample

This event will consist of two phases of competition for a one person team. Phase one will consist of the location and collection of a latent print from a selection of two items. Competitors who advance to phase two will complete a fingerprint analysis activity requiring the competitor to match known and unknown prints along with identifying minutiae. The event will be timed and evaluated according to event guidelines. This event will measure the student competitors; knowledge, skill, and ability to process a fingerprint from discovery through laboratory analysis and reporting.

Dress Code

Competitors shall wear one of the following uniform types; a uniform consistent with current standards in law enforcement patrol (no duty belt), lab coats (slacks, shirt, shoes), or jumpsuits/ Tyvek suits.


Team Limit
# Teams per Chapter


  • Photo Identification qt. 1

    Reference for more information

  • Black fingerprint powder (non-magnetic) qt. 1
  • Fingerprint brush qt. 1
  • Fingerprint lifting tape qt. 1

    (clear or frosted), no hinged or gel lifters (fingerprint backing cards will be provided at competition site)

  • Scissors qt. 1

    (if needed to cut fingerprint lifting tape)

  • Gloves qt. 1
  • Workstation cleaning wipes qt. 1
  • Blue/Black ink pen qt. 1
  • Magnifying loupe/ magnifying glass qt. 1


  • Ridge counter qt. 1


  • 1 Sheet Legal Size White Copy Paper( qt. 1


  • Coffee Filter qt. 1


  • Air bubble remover qt. 1


  • No additional items may be brought in to the competition room 


  • Competitors in this event must be active members of the Texas Public Safety Association and in good standing with the Texas Public Safety Association.
  • Competitors must be familiar with and adhere to the Texas Public Safety Association Bylaws and Code of Conduct.
  • Plagiarism, copyright violation and falsification of information are prohibited. Any attempt to gain an unfair advantage will not be tolerated. Violation of the code of conduct or bylaws will result in disqualification and revocation of Texas Public Safety Association membership.
  • The scenario is a secret topic. Professional ethics demand that competitors DO NOT discuss or reveal the secret topic until after the event has concluded. Violation of the ethics rules will result in disqualification and revocation of Texas Public Safety Association membership.
  • This event shall be conducted with time restrictions; Instructions: two (2) minutes Phase I: five (5) minutes Reset between Phase I & II: five (5) minutes Instructions: two (2) minutes Phase II: thirty (30) minutes Total event time: forty-four (44) minutes


  1. Phase I ( all competitors will compete at the same time) Procedure Below:
  2. Competitor(s)/Team(s) will report to their respective event when called for or at a set reporting time.
  3. Competitor(s)/Team(s) must check in with event management upon arrival and present photo identification for verification.
  4. Competitor(s)/Team(s) will be directed (by room moderator) into the event room.
  5. Each student will be directed (by room moderator) to a workstation with two items of evidence (example; glass, ceramic tile, kitchen knife, etc.).
    1. To provide a consistent and equal opportunity for all competitors each workstation shall contain the same items. No exceptions to this rule shall be allowed.
  6. The competitor will place all required items on their workstation, visible to the room moderator.(The room moderator will verify that each competitor has the appropriate supplies. Competitors who fail to bring the appropriate supplies will receive a disqualification and be asked to leave the competition room. No supplies shall be shared between competitors.)
  7. The room moderator will set a timer for 5 minutes.
  8. When the moderator starts the timer and calls “start”, each competitor will:
    1. Locate, dust, and lift a print from the surface of the item. The competitor may lift from one or both of the items. No extra time will be added for the second item.
    2. Adhere the fingerprint to a backing card and completely fill out the card. (Cards shall be provided by TPSA, Case information shall be provided by TPSA)
    3. Submit one completed fingerprint card to the judge. If the competitor has opted to lift two prints, the competitor must choose which print they will submit. Only one card shall be submitted to the judge for scoring. The second card shall be deposited in the trash prior to the student cleaning up their workstation. The judge/ monitor may not speak to the student regarding which card to submit.
    4. Clean up workstation
  9. The moderator will call “time” when the 5 minute timer sounds. All competitors must place their hands in the air and back away from their workstations if not finished.
    1. The judge shall check “DNF” on the scoring rubric if a competitor has not submitted a card at “time”.
    2. Competitors who receive a “DNF” shall not advance to phase II.
    3. Competitors who have not cleaned their stations will receive a deduction in points on the scoring rubric and will advance to Phase II
  10. Phase II (all competitors advancing to this phase will compete at the same time.) Procedure Below:
  11. Each student will be directed to a workstation. The student must bring their own magnifying apparatus (optional) (loupe/ glass), ridge counter (optional) and writing utensil (blue/ black ink only)
  12. The room moderator will distribute a photocopied fingerprint analysis packet to each competitor (face down on the desk). Each packet will contain:
    1. 3 Ten-Print Identification Cards containing “known” prints
    2. 1 suspect print of unknown origin (fingerprint backing card)
  13. The moderator will set a timer for 30 minutes.
  14. The moderator will start the time and announce “start”
  15. Upon the word “start” each competitor shall: Turn over their fingerprint analysis packet, The competitor will analyze the prints and attempt to make a match between the suspect print and the fingerprint cards, and Once the competitor has a “match” they will complete the identification process by;
    1. Circling three minutiae on the “suspect” print and the corresponding minutiae on the “known” print. Each minutiae shall be assigned a number 1-3 by the competitor.
    2. The competitor will name each of the minutiae on the “suspect” print. (example: delta, bifurcation, island, etc.)
    3. The competitor will name the specific overall fingerprint pattern (tented arch, plain arch, radial loop, ulnar loop, plain whorl, central pocket loop whorl, double loop whorl, accidental whorl) on the “suspect” print.
  16. If the competitor completes their analysis prior to the call for “time” they may submit their analysis to the moderator and leave the competition area. All analysis documents must be submitted to the moderator prior to the competitor leaving the room.
  17. The moderator will call “time” when the 30 minute timer sounds. All competitors must place their hands in the air and back away from their workstations if not finished.
    1. Competitors who do not finish in time will submit their analysis to the moderator “as is” for scoring. Points will not be awarded for incomplete sections of the analysis. (Example: Circle three minutiae on the “suspect” print and the corresponding minutiae on the “known” print. Each minutiae shall be assigned a number 1-3 by the competitor. If “Time” is called and the competitor has only circled 2 minutiae and provided no labels or names for the minutiae. No points shall be awarded for this requirement)
  18. The moderator will collect all fingerprint analysis documents from students who have not already submitted their analysis for scoring upon the call of “time”.No fingerprint analysis documents shall leave the testing room with a competitor.

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