Finding Answers by Fingering Prints

imgFCMCJustAlumHackett170x150When Jennifer Hackett ’03 got into the field of criminal justice, she had no idea what to expect. Thanks to shows like “CSI,” she thought crime investigations took an hour.

In her current role as one of 32 fingerprint analysts in the Miami-Dade Police Department’s 24-hour operation, she knows better. “You don’t solve everything in a day,” she says recounting a recent routine registration fingerprinting that sparked the reopening of a 5-year-old cold case.

Hackett’s intent since childhood was to become a homicide detective. In crime lab classes at JWU’s North Miami Campus, she learned how to secure a crime scene, analyze evidence and the 10 to 15 points of identification in processing fingerprints.

The fact that her professors “weren’t just professors; they were professors who worked in the field giving insight everyday,” added to her overall interest. A job posting for a fingerprint analyst charted her course.

After 7 years in the department and certification in FBI fingerprint classification, Hackett is still surprised by the volume of crime. Processing at least 80 prints in a day, she handles everything from identity verification and prisoners’ records to criminal cases and court testimonies. Still, she loves her work. "It’s never boring," she says.

While she hopes one day to work crime scenes, she finds her current roles as analyst, wife and mother rewarding enough. “What I love is to find an answer to an unsolved thing,” she says.