Voters should approve the King County fingerprint levy on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.

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King County voters should approve the $126 million 6-year levy for the county’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

While this essential operation in support of both city and county law enforcement should actually be part of the county’s regular operating budget, that’s not a good enough reason to reject the levy on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot. The proposal is before voters for the sixth time since 1986.

The proposal likely means a small tax increase for homeowners even though there is a small decrease in the fingerprint levy rate — to 3.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation from 5.92 cents. Despite the lower rate, taxpayers will pay more because their housing value has increased. For the owner of a $650,000 King County home, the cost will be about $23 a year.

County officials estimate the levy will collect about $21 million a year through 2024. That’s an increase from about $20 million a year in the current levy.

The money will pay for the equipment and people to operate the regional system that matches people to crimes through fingerprint identification technology. Digital devices at police departments and jails and mobile devices at crime scenes store fingerprints and palm prints and upload them to a searchable database.

The fingerprint system is indispensable. Since its creation, it has helped Seattle Police, the King County sheriff and all suburban police departments solve thousands of crimes by connecting them to regional, state and national networks. Doing this work regionally instead of each law enforcement agency buying its own system saves money and helps keep them all up-to-date on the technology.

Voters should vote to approve continuing this levy.