Lack of Biometric ID Might Shed Insight into Boston Bombing

In an era when a typical news cycle runs 24 to 48 hours, the mainstream media appears frustrated with the pace of the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing. Unlike many of the crime dramas portrayed on television, investigations of this nature are painstakingly methodical.

In his blog, journalist Steve Prestegard noted my belief that the improvised explosive devices used in the Boston attack were strategically placed after bomb sniffing dogs had swept the area and were not, as some media outlets speculated, left in trash receptacles.

Yesterday, the FBI released still photographs of two suspects.  By appealing to the public for assistance, it appears that investigators, up until this point, were unable to link the persons of interest through the use of facial recognition software.

Created with the technological support of defense contractor Lockheed Martin, the FBI’s $1.2 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) network—a system previously tested in a handful of states—uses 3D partial facial recognition software to develop a list of up to two dozen possible suspects. Data bases containing biometric images (mathematical dimensions that measure and catalog eyes, noses, ears, and other facial features) include the new, REAL ID compatible driver’s licenses, international passports, and existing booking photos. Digital images from social networking sites can also be imported to NGI.

Here’s a hint to those who believe Boston is a “homegrown” terror attack: the lack of biometric images linking the suspect in the white ball cap to a fairly expansive data base might mean that this person has been in the country for a relatively short period of time, especially since many states, through their individual DMVs, currently obtain biometric photographs from applicants as young as 15-years-of-age.

Gun Bill Goes Down in Flames

As even casual observers of American politics can see, members of the far-left often show outright contempt for the Second Amendment. The president claims he supports gun ownership, even though reports have surfaced that, during his tenure as a law school instructor, Obama, according to some sources, made statements advocating a handgun ban.

Many believe the Obama administration used the families of Newtown victims as political props to press for restrictions on gun rights, even though the bill rejected by the U.S. Senate would have done little, if anything, to prevent the Sandy Hook School shootings. Adam Lanza, the man who perpetrated the slayings, killed his own mother and then confiscated her firearms to commit the homicides. Lanza did not purchase these guns.

Having worked in law enforcement for decades, I have spoken to several investigators who question the need for more gun laws when those already on the books are under enforced.  Empirical data strongly suggests that those who violate state and federal gun laws receive what is tantamount to a slap on the wrist. This is precisely why straw purchases—a process by which individuals prohibited from possessing firearms solicit non-prohibited persons to buy firearms for them—continue to flourish.

As I noted in an April 10 news release, conducted an extensive survey of 15,000 police officers, the vast majority of whom believe gun control might actually cause more problems than the legislation seeks to solve.

Moreover, the overall percentage of firearms’ related deaths attributed to school shootings is tragic but miniscule. Sadly, 92 percent of firearms homicides are committed with handguns, primarily in central cities. Reading the polling data, SF believes gun control measures are losing public support, as the vast majority of law abiding Americans, it appears, do not believe they should surrender their freedoms because big-city police chiefs cannot get a grip on naro-gang violence.

Take Milwaukee, for example, a city that comprises just 10.9 percent of Wisconsin’s population but, in 2010, accounted for 55 percent of the state’s homicides. Why would gun owners in Eau Claire or Green Bay concede their Second Amendment freedoms because Milwaukee, in comparison, is spiraling out-of-control?


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

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© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

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