King County leaders laud fingerprint lab for international accreditation
July 17, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 9 a.m. July 17, 2012
King County leaders recognized the Automated Fingerprint Identification System on Monday for achieving international accreditation.
The system provides criminal fingerprint identification services to law enforcement agencies throughout the county, including the Issaquah Police Department. The regional Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, received the accreditation for the Latent Print Unit.
The unit responds to major crime scenes and processes evidence in a lab by using chemicals, photography and other means to find fingerprints left at crime scenes. Investigators then enter the prints into the regional database to search for matches.
“AFIS is an invaluable law enforcement tool that plays a vital role in crime detection throughout the region,” Issaquah-area Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement. “The system’s accreditation recognizes the expertise and knowledge of the county employees responsible for the operation of the program.”
The council recognized AFIS for earning accreditation from Forensic Quality Services, a Florida-based provider of accreditation to forensic testing agencies.
“Formal accreditation simply confirms what we’ve known for years — that our King County fingerprint unit lives up to the highest standards through experience, knowledge and the commitment of its outstanding staff,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement.
The assessment praised the AFIS staff’s commitment to high-quality management of procedures, training, competence and dedication. The program is the second facility in the state to receive forensic laboratory accreditation, after the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab.
“King County residents can be proud of the professional achievements of our AFIS staff in meeting recognized international standards for forensics in fingerprinting and the new palmprinting technology,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert — Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee chairwoman and the Issaquah representative — said in a statement. “The AFIS system is an essential investigative tool that serves all of our law enforcement agencies. We appreciate their continuing dedication to solving crimes and protecting public safety for everyone in King County.”
The lab also received recognition for meeting a standard widely used in Europe but achieved by only a couple of other agencies in the United States.
“Finding and identifying fingerprints is critical to solving crimes and promoting public safety,” Councilman Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “Residents can be proud knowing that our King County program is world-class.”
The recognition came as the council considers a property tax levy to fund AFIS through 2018. Voters approved the initial AFIS levy in 1986, and overwhelmingly renewed the levy since then, most recently in 2006. The current levy expires in December.