AFIS lab is second in state to receive international status
StoryKing County’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) program was recognized today by the Metropolitan King County Council for recently achieving international accreditation for its Latent Print Unit.
The unit responds to major crime scenes and processes evidence in its lab using chemicals, photography and other means to find fingerprints left at crime scenes. The “latent” prints are entered into the regional AFIS database to search for matches with known prints, and to provide identification information to investigators and prosecutors.
“AFIS is an invaluable law enforcement tool that plays a vital role in crime detection throughout the region,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “The system’s accreditation recognizes the expertise and knowledge of the county employees responsible for the operation of the program.”
“King County residents can be proud of the professional achievements of our AFIS staff in meeting recognized international standards for forensics in fingerprinting and the new palmprinting technology,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “The AFIS system is an essential investigative tool that serves all of our law enforcement agencies. We appreciate their continuing dedication to solving crimes and protecting public safety for everyone in King County.”
The Council recognized AFIS for earning accreditation from Forensic Quality Services, which assessed every aspect of the latent print work conducted by AFIS staff. The assessment praised the staff’s commitment to high-quality management of procedures, training, competence and dedication. King County’s program was just the second facility in the state to be awarded forensic laboratory accreditation, following the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab. Accreditation was awarded to AFIS on May 25, 2012.
“Formal accreditation simply confirms what we’ve known for years – that our King County fingerprint unit lives up to the highest standards through experience, knowledge, and the commitment of its outstanding staff,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
“By achieving this International Organization for Standardization (ISO) accreditation, King County has demonstrated to the world that it has an excellent quality system and the citizens of the county should be proud of their AFIS program,” said Terry Mills, Forensic Quality Services Manager of Accreditation. “Accreditation to ISO/IEC 17020 is becoming the new norm for forensic inspection agencies, and we take pride in being at the forefront of a significant trend.”
The AFIS lab also was recognized for meeting this international conformity assessment standard that is widely used in Europe but has been achieved by only two other agencies in the United States.
“AFIS continues to be an effective tool in protecting the public,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “This recognition is acknowledgment of the hard work done by the entire AFIS section to achieve international accreditation.”
“The AFIS system gives our law enforcement officers technology for solving crimes at their fingertips,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “AFIS helps keep our communities safer and allows our officers to use their time effectively. The international accreditation enhances AFIS’s benefits.”
“AFIS is an essential tool in King County’s arsenal of crime prevention and detection assets,” said County Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “It continues to make a difference and its recent international accreditation is just one more measure of the value AFIS provides the citizens of King County.”
“Finding and identifying fingerprints is critical to solving crimes and promoting public safety,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. “Residents can be proud knowing that our King County program is world-class.”
“Our region is safer and more secure thanks to the excellent work of the King County AFIS program and its staff members,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “Achievement of international standards in fingerprint identification only proves that our AFIS staff members are committed to justice, and their dedication is critically important for protecting all citizens of King County.”
Laboratory accreditation assures police agencies and citizens that the operation establishes and follows a stringent set of Standard Operating Procedures and Quality Manual, such as maintaining chain-of-custody standards.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our Latent Unit staff and supervision for accomplishing this significant milestone,” said Carol Gillespie, AFIS Program Manager. The assessment went smoothly due to the positive mindset within the unit, and each team member’s commitment to quality assurance.”
WHEREAS, the Regional Automated Fingerprint Identification System operated by the King County Sheriff’s Office promotes public safety and contributes to crime reduction by providing expert fingerprint identification services to criminal justice agencies throughout King County; and
WHEREAS, the Latent Print Unit responds to major crime scenes and processes evidence in the lab using chemicals, photography, and other means to find fingerprints and palmprints left at crime scenes; these “latent” prints are matched with file prints in the AFIS database, and suspect information is provided to detectives for use in investigating crimes; and
WHEREAS, the AFIS staff includes examiners who provide expert testimony in court and administrative specialists who track all casework and handle evidence from police agencies while maintaining chain-of-custody standards; and
WHEREAS, on May 25, 2012, King County’s AFIS Program received international accreditation from Forensic Quality Services for its Latent Print Unit, which certifies that the lab establishes and follows a stringent set of Standard Operating Procedures and Quality Manual, and the accreditation process included every aspect of the Latent Print Unit’s operations including procedures, technical qualifications, and competence; and
WHEREAS, King County’s AFIS lab is the second lab in the state to receive forensic accreditation, following the Washington State Patrol crime lab, and is just the third agency in the country to meet the conformity assessment standards of this type of international accreditation;
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, recognize the staff and leadership of the County’s
AUTOMATED FINGERPRINT IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM
for their professional achievements in earning international accreditation and their continuing dedication to solving crimes and protecting public safety for all residents of King County.
DATED this sixteenth day of July, 2012.