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Paul Coverdell Forensic Sciences Improvement Grant to replace a Scanning Electron Microscope/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectrometer

Award Information

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Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $175,000)

The Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) Forensic Services Bureau (FSB) requests $175,000 under the FY2015 Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program to replace a Scanning Electron Microscope/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectrometer (SEM/EDS) to analyze Gunshot Residue (GSR) in the Trace Evidence Unit (TEU) of the Crime Laboratory.

The FSB provides forensic services for the MDPD as well as for all municipal, state and federal law enforcement agencies within Miami-Dade County. Presently, the MDPD FSB is the only government forensic laboratory in the State of Florida offering GSR analysis. In Miami-Dade County, over 500 gunshot residue kits are collected annually. The FSB continues to seek ways to improve the efficiency of its operation in order to provide timely forensic services and meet the needs of the judicial system. The combination of Scanning Electron Microscopy and Energy Dispersive Spectrometry has widespread scientific acceptance as the optimum technique for the examination and analysis of GSR. The SEM/EDS is utilized by the TEU to examine primer residue, commonly referred to as GSR, and the elemental analysis of other trace materials. The new SEM/EDS will replace an aging instrument which contains electronic components that are either limited or no longer available.

As of December 31, 2015, the manufacturer will transition the current SEM/EDS to End of Contract Support. In addition to the analysis of GSR, the SEM/EDS can analyze other types of trace evidence. For example, the SEM/EDS can be used to identify the elemental composition of paint.

Additionally, the SEM/EDS can also be used in some headlamp examinations to assist in the determination of a possible cold or hot shock filament break when determining if a headlamp was "on" or "off' at the time of an impact. This funding will enable the MDPD Forensic Services Bureau to utilize a new SEM/EDS with faster processing speeds and less detector maintenance. In addition, the new SEM/EDS eliminates the need for liquid nitrogen to cool t11e detector. Finally, the new SEM/EDS will increase the laboratory's capacity to perform GSR analysis by approximately 30% and will enable the FSB to continue to provide critical forensic services to support the criminal justice system and make the streets of Miami-Dade County safer for its citizens.


Date Created: September 16, 2015