Key NYPD investigative unit earns national accreditation

Police officials led by Commissioner James O'Neill, hold up their certificate of accreditation at Police Plaza. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The NYPD Latent Print Section, the largest unit of its kind in the world, received national accreditation that gives their investigative unit more clout in working to build cases.

The Latent Print Section is responsible for analyzing, comparing and identifying latent prints as well as photographs submitted by Crime Scene units, precinct evidence collection teams, the police lab and other investigative units. Members also provide expert courtroom testimony as needed and produce forensic sketches to aid in investigations.

Deputy Chief Emanuel Katranakis, commander of the NYPD Forensics Division, said getting the accreditation from the ANSI National Accreditation Board, the largest multi-disciplinary body in North America, elevates the NYPD as the gold standard of of investigative techniques and skill. The NYPD Latent Print Section performs more than a million comparisons of finger, palm and foot prints.

Katranakis said that while the print section was already top in the field, he said in order to get accreditation, they had to pass more than 400 particular standards,  “very labor intensive processes all to apply and show best processes and procedures.” 

He said the section’s 50 members work thousands of hours a year to help to convict murderers, rapists and robbery offenders — while also exonerating the innocent.

“This unit has been doing its examinations with the highest quality of work and this is what we chose to do, proactively,” Katranakis said. “This insures that we will get the right, correct answers and the public should know we are producing results [upon which] confidence can be placed.”

The NYPD has worked 10 years to receive accreditation for the Latent Print Section, bringing it into  full compliance with the International Organization of Standardization requirements.

Commissioner James O’Neill hailed the achievement as an important milestone for the NYPD.

“This accreditation is a significant accomplishment and I want to thank members of the Forensic Investigations Division, including its commander, for their work to secure this important seal of approval,” Commissioner O’Neill said. “The NYPD’s Latent Print Section’s reliable, accurate, impartial and objective results play a critical part of our work to ensure public safety.”

Commissioner James O’Neill enters press conference to talk about the new accreditation for the Latent Print Unit.  (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Todd Maisel