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Alphonse Bertillon
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Crime Fighter
    (April 24, 1853-February 13, 1914)
    Born in Paris, France
    Officer in the Paris Prefecture of Police
    Pioneer in forensics
    Developed the Bertillon system, a collection of physical measurements used to identify criminals
    He was expelled from school and drifted through a number of jobs before his father got him a position as a police clerk.
    The Bertillon system was cumbersome and eventually supplanted by fingerprinting.
    He proclaimed himself a handwriting expert and provided testimony (described by one observer as 'a long tissue of absurdities') that helped get Alfred Dreyfus sent to Devil's Island.
    His own handwriting was described as 'horrifying.'
    He was left-handed.
    He introduced the mugshot, without which The Smoking Gun would be a lot less fun.
    He was also a pioneer in ballistics, forensic document examination and crime scene photography.
    In 'The Hound of the Baskervilles,' a client described Sherlock Holmes as the 'second highest expert in Europe' after Bertillon.

Credit: C. Fishel


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