Seattle Voters Asked to OK Property-Tax Hike For Fingerprint Checks


For the fifth time since 1990, King County voters in Seattle are being asked to renew a property-tax levy for an important crime-fighting tool, the Seattle Times reports. Proposition No. 1 seeks $119 million over six years for the county’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System, known as AFIS. The levy would collect 5.92 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The owner of a $350,000 home would pay about $21 next year under the proposal. AFIS is used by law-enforcement agencies in all of the county’s cities and unincorporated areas.

Fingerprints and palm prints are the most common type of forensic evidence used in local crime-fighting. Prosecutors build their cases on multiple kinds of evidence, from eyewitness statements to fingerprints. It would be hard to determine whether a conviction was the direct result of fingerprint evidence. “But, based on the 7,000 or so felony charges we file a year, the work that AFIS does in a significant number of cases assists us in gaining convictions,” said Ian Goodhew of the county prosecutor’s office. Levy proponents point to anecdotal evidence of AFIS’ success. A palmprint lifted from a dresser led to the identification, arrest, and 25-year prison sentence of Jesse Ryan Gonzales for raping a 12-year old girl in her bedroom.

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