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King County Regional Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS)

The regional AFIS program promotes public safety and contributes to crime reduction by providing fingerprint identification services and technology to criminal justice agencies throughout King County.

Program overview

The AFIS program is funded through a property tax levy with the first levy being approved in 1986.  The program serves all 39 cities and unincorporated areas in King County.  This regional approach of providing enhanced criminal identification services promotes greater public and officer safety through information sharing, at a minimal cost to the individual taxpayer.  The AFIS Advisory Committee provides oversight on the operation and funding of services.  Committee membership includes representatives from suburban jurisdictions, City of Seattle, and King County. 

AFIS videos

Find out more about the AFIS program

  • To quickly identify arrested individuals, preventing the wrongful release of those using false names.

  • To identify crime scene fingerprints and palmprints that aid in investigations and provide evidence in court.

  • Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) - searchable database of hundreds of thousands of fingerprints and palmprints used to verify identities and help solve crimes.

  • Livescan - device that electronically captures and transmits fingerprint images to the AFIS database for identification.  Devices are located at police departments and jails throughout the county and increase the speed and quality of fingerprints submitted upon arrest.

  • Mobile Identification - handheld capture devices paired with software that allows officers in the field with probable cause to verify a person's identity within minutes without requiring them to return to a jail or precinct.

The program is funded through a voter-approved property tax levy.  It is not part of the King County Sheriff's Office or the Seattle Police Department budgets, as it supports enhanced regional fingerprint identification services to all cities and unincorporated areas in King County.  A property tax levy allows AFIS services to be borne regionally at a lower cost instead of by each individual police agency.

Since AFIS is a regional program it provides centralized technology and expert forensic staff through economy of scale. This regional approach:

  • Provides a network of over 50 Livescan devices to capture high quality fingerprints and transmit them electronically to AFIS for fast identification

  • Allows for more accessible technology with an overall lower cost

  • Builds a larger and higher quality database, resulting in more identifications

  • Contributes to information sharing between agencies

  • Pools staffing to allow for 24/7 coverage and invests in subject matter experts

  • Supports task forces, special initiatives, and major crime investigations