King County voters renew levy for police fingerprint services

November 8, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 5 p.m. Nov. 8, 2012

King County voters overwhelmingly approved a $118.9 million property tax levy to continue funding criminal fingerprint identification services for local law enforcement agencies, including the Issaquah Police Department.

Proposition 1 asked voters to keep the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, in operation through 2018. The system provides criminal fingerprint identification services to the King County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies.

The proposed renewal levy rate is 5.92 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or about $20.72 per year for a $350,000 home.

Issaquah officers used information from AFIS 2,100 times last year to determine if a jail inmate was evading a warrant, concealing a criminal record or using a false identity.

Investigators use the AFIS database to match fingerprints and palmprints to criminal suspects. The system is managed by the sheriff’s office.

Issaquah officers send material to the AFIS laboratory each week for testing. Technicians processed 18,959 pieces of evidence for fingerprints from law enforcement agencies countywide last year.

Proposition 1 received broad support from public officials and lacked organized opposition. The measure cruised to easy victory on Election Day.

In the latest results released Thursday by King County Elections, Proposition 1 garnered 59.5 percent approval out of more than 625,000 ballots.

“Approval of the AFIS levy is an important victory for public safety here in King County,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement released Thursday.

Local leaders and law enforcement officials throughout the county, including the Issaquah City Council and Issaquah Police Chief Paul Ayers, endorsed the levy renewal. Ayers is also the King County Chiefs of Police Association representative on the AFIS Advisory Committee.

“This valuable crime-fighting program has served the people well at a reasonable cost for more than 25 years,” Constantine said. “Thanks to King County voters, it will continue to serve the region for another six years.”

Voters approved the initial AFIS levy in 1986, and overwhelmingly renewed the levy since then, most recently in 2006.

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