One of the most important things in matching fingerprints is making sure you have a good original, which is why technicians in Wake County are trained in how to take fingerprints when people are arrested. At the CCBI, technicians can enter a crime scene fingerprint into a state database. It contains the prints of more than one million people who have previously been arrested.
When CCBI does not get a match in the state database, it now has a new tool -- a federal database. It contains prints from more than 46 million people.
"We're definitely going to use this to solve crime," said CCBI examiner Johnny Leonard, who has been studying fingerprints for 32 years.
Leonard said the ability to hook into the federal database is cutting edge because it will help CCBI solve more crimes than ever before.
"Here, you're now able to make an identification and to bring up a record someone thought was long forgotten," he said. "This is a great opportunity for us to do that."
The State Bureau of Identification is the only other agency in North Carolina that can tap into the federal fingerprint database.