Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $118,357)
St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office (SLCSO) Crime Scene Unit provides crime scene investigation for over 291,028 residents of St. Lucie County. The SLCSO works in partnership with Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the investigation of criminal activity including agencies such as: the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and Sheriffs Offices in the neighboring counties of Indian River, Okeechobee and Martin County. The Crime Scene Unit has numerous responsibilities including the documentation, processing and collection of evidence at active crime scenes, as well as the daily processing of evidence submitted by sheriff deputies, among other miscellaneous duties. The unit processes over 2,400 pieces of evidence annually, amounting to an average of 200 pieces per month. The Crime Scene Unit presently consists of one (1) crime scene detective, two (2) crime scene investigators, and one (1) temporary crime scene assistant. The unit anticipates the loss of one staff member due to retirement in 2015 which will result in a significant hardship. The project goal of the St. Lucie County Sheriffs Office is to enhance forensic services by improving the quality and timeliness of the Crime Scene Unit by adding personnel and streamlining the processing of evidence through advanced technology. This will be achieved by completing two objectives: (1) the purchase of a new Full Spectrum Imaging System and (2) the hiring of a new fulltime crime scene investigator. Acquiring a new Full Spectrum Imaging System will greatly improve the quality of forensic evidence processed and collected while significantly reducing the processing time as compared to the current method. Hiring a new investigator will significantly increase productivity and help to relieve the backlog of evidence waiting for processing. With this in mind, the St. Lucie County Sheriffs Office is requesting funding through the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program to purchase a state-of-the-art Full Spectrum Imaging System as well as funding the salary and benefits for a fulltime crime scene investigator. Improving the quality of forensic services in a timely manner will provide detectives with valuable evidence for use in arrest and ultimate conviction of offenders in St. Lucie County, Florida.