One Billion Fingerprints in NYC Files?

I was reading a book about Cold Case detectives in New York City and the author mentions “since 1910 the NYC police department now has kept fingerprints of all people arrested. Since 2000, the number of fingerprints is now over one billion on file.”

I find that an unbelieveable number.

Considering there are only 8 million people in NYC now, and I realize a lot of people have lived and died since 1910, plus you’d include all the people arrested in NYC but that don’t live there, but still a billion fingerprints seems like a lot.

Does this sound like it could be accurate?

I wonder if they’re including all ten fingers. So a billion fingerprints for 100 million arrestees.

Still seems far too many, though.

I could believe that they have taken prints 1 billion times, not that the prints came from 1 billion people.

In any case, how would they have preserved a set of prints- or 100 million sets of prints- for 98 years? File cabinets aren’t exactly clean rooms.

NYPD: Billions and Billions Served.

I see what you did there.

They do all ten fingers, then a full set of four fingers together from each hand. That would be eighteen prints per card. When they did mine (not NYC), they did two or three copies.

They probably also have prints on file not just for all the criminals, but for members of certain professions. I remember my ex-wife had to get printed when she got her nursing license in Louisiana. And I got printed by the state police for my current job because I’m dealing with the private data of state agencies as a contractor for the Commonwealth of PA.

I can imagine a great deal of duplication, if some people were arrested multiple times in different precincts and gave different names each time. Before modern computers, there’d be no easy way to know that Joe Smith arrested in Brooklyn in 1931 was also John Jones who got picked up in the Bronx in 1932 and James Williams who got pinched in Queens in 1933.

Standard procedure is to take a set of prints & a photo on every person, every time they are booked into custody. Even if it’s a habitual minor offender who they book a couple times a day, and is well known to them.

Perhaps they do include jobs. The author mentions in the book that the police were looking in Baltimore for a NYC murder and Baltimore had the suspects fingerprints, from a job she applied for, she had no prior criminal arrests