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Voters asked to approve levy for biometric crime database


Voters from King County have been encouraged in a Seattle Times editorial to approve and support a six-year $120 million levy for an automated fingerprint identification system for the Seattle area.

An automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) allows law officers to match palm prints and fingerprints in a database composed of hundredths of thousands of files. Comparing this data enables law enforcement officers to track down and solve critical investigations and crimes.

In December 2011, a man named Jesse Ryan Gonzales was arrested in connection with a rape case. Gonzales was alleged to have placed his hand on the glass surface of a vanity when he was in the bedroom of the 12-year old girl victim that he raped. He unconsciously left a palm print on the glass that was retrieved by investigators and compared to 350,000 others in the AFIS database. The palm print matched that of Gonzales’ 2006 arrest, thus allowing the police to obtain an arrest warrant.

King Country prosecuting attorney, Dan Satterberg stated that the arrest would have not been possible without AFIS. The AFIS was last updated in March 2011 in order to match palm prints.

If voters approve a levy on the November 6 ballot, they will authorize a property tax rate increase of 5.92 cents for every $1000 of assessed property value. The levy would last for six years, starting in 2013., and would cost an owner of a $350,000 home approximately $20 per year.

Besides the maintenance of the system, the levy would be used for a new laboratory and further studies regarding AFIS operations using wireless handheld devices.

AFIS had been renewed four-times since 1986 and is utilized by the county, the Seattle Police Department (http://www.seattle.gov/spd/), and all other suburban police departments. The system also enables law enforcement agencies to connect with the regional, state, and national networks.

Should voters in King County renew the levy for AFIS funding?

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