In the past, arresting officers in King County would take up to six sets of inked fingerprints of the subject in custody in order to notify each agency involved in an arrest. This was a very time-consuming process and it was difficult to maintain a high quality of prints when taking multiple sets.
Fingerprint examiners used complex and time-consuming methods of filing and searching for paper records of fingerprints in an attempt to identify criminal offenders. People detained on minor charges often lied about their identity to evade more serious felony warrants. The identification process took so long that these people were usually released before the officer ever knew they were lying. Even crime-scene prints could not be searched without a suspect in mind.
This all changed with the introduction of Livescan technology and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).
Livescan devices are located throughout the county. They electronically capture and transmit fingerprint and palmprint images to the AFIS computer for identification over a secure network. Seattle Police or King County Sheriff’s Tenprint Units can identify “Liars” and give the information to arresting agencies in minutes instead of days. Livescans in the jails have been upgraded to capture images at a higher resolution. The sharper image clarity assists examiners in making the more difficult crime scene identifications. Your neighborhood is safer because of the efficiency of Livescan.
Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS)
King County uses an AFIS, a fingerprint matching computer, to manage hundreds of thousands of fingerprint and palmprint records. From a fingerprint search, the computer creates a candidate list of possible matches for the examiner to review. AFIS uses ridge counts and the relationships between fingerprint minutiae in its matching algorithm and allows even distorted prints to be accurately matched. It complies with all FBI and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) requirements for image quality.
In 2011, the program replaced the 23-year old AFIS computer with a New Generation AFIS (NGA). The new AFIS includes palmprints, which will result in more crime scene print matches; therefore, more suspects will be identified contributing to public and officer safety. The old system only allowed for matching and storing of the first joints of fingers and thumbs.