Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $165,000)
The scope of this proposal is to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic laboratory services of the Wilmington Police Department Crime Laboratory "the laboratory" to the City of Wilmington and the five (5) surrounding counties that it serves in Southeastern North Carolina. In 2013, Wilmington (the county seat of New Hanover County) had a population of 112,067 people with the total population in New Hanover, Brunswick, Duplin, Onslow and Render counties being 629,206 people. The primary objectives to improvement of quality and timeliness of services are as follows: 1) Standardize the process of tracking cases and evidence within the department and the laboratory. 2) Optimize workflow across all disciplines by increasing the efficiency of receipt, processing and reporting. 3) Provide an electronic mechanism for maintaining the overall Quality Management System under the ISO 17025-lnternational accreditation program.
From September 2009 - February 2015, the laboratory has been separate from other forensic science units at the Wilmington Police Department, providing Blood Alcohol Analysis and Controlled Substances Analysis only. The laboratory attained ISO 17025-lnternational accreditation in June 2013. In March 2015, the department merged the Latent Print Analysis Unit and Computer Forensics Unit under laboratory management with a larger goal of bringing these disciplines up to ISO 17025 accreditation standards which is required under North Carolina General Statute 8-58.20 by July 1,2016. With this merger, laboratory management has discovered a backlog of cases in the latent print unit to add to the backlog in controlled substances. The laboratory as a whole needs a uniform standard for case tracking, competency and proficiency scheduling, improvements in workflow to address backlogs, prevent bottlenecks and increase capacity for analysis. The primary funding from this solicitation would be towards the purchase of a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) that would provide improved timeliness from receipt of requests to reporting, provide for quality assurance management in accordance with ISO 17025 standards for all disciplines and move toward a paperless laboratory to reduce time spent on administrative tasks which will reduce turnaround times and increase technical productivity.