St. Louis police first in U.S. to use fingerprints

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

On this day, Oct. 28, in 1904, the St. Louis Police Department became the first U.S. police department to use fingerprinting.

For 30 years prior, law enforcement officials measured bony parts of the body to identify criminals.

But that system pretty much ended in 1903, when a man named Will West was sentenced to the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. It turned out there was already a prisoner named William West who had the same bone measurements.

The men were identified as the same person, until fingerprints were taken and prison officials discovered they were identical twins.

During the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, a British sergeant from Scotland Yard showed officials from Leavenworth and St. Louis new fingerprint techniques.

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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