Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $53,435)
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department is a certified law enforcement agency responsible for public safety in the City of Fort Lauderdale. The largest of Broward County's thirty (30) municipalities and the seventh largest city in Florida, Fort Lauderdale is densely populated with over 170,000 year-round residents dwelling in more than 33 square miles. Fort Lauderdale has a daily commuter population of approximately 135,000 additional people and serves as primary host for the areas' 10 million annual visitors. The maintenance of a safe environment for residents and tourists is a priority for law enforcement.
The Police Department's Crime Scene Unit processes an average of 1,550 cases annually, I equating to over 5,000 pieces of evidence being examined. Their work includes responding to crime scenes in order to document and gather evidence, and processing items for trace and biological evidence, gunshot and narcotics residue and fingerprints. This 12 person unit is responsible for supporting the entire Fort Lauderdale Police Department, to include Patrol and the Criminal and Special Investigations Divisions. In fact, in 2014, CSU responded to 1,625 major crimes which includes homicides, violent crimes, sexual batteries, robberies, and high value property crimes.
Although CSU processes thousands of pieces of evidence, they are unable to meet the demand of all items requiring processing, and as a result a backlog has been generated. The unit's Latent Examiners are also experiencing the same difficulty in keeping up with the volume of latents for evaluation and comparison, despite their having reviewed more than 3,000 cases last year.
Our agency is requesting funding under the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program to support efforts to reduce the current, and prevent future, backlogs of forensic evidence awaiting processing. Our project seeks to address the backlog by acquiring equipment that allows for more efficient processing of evidence thru a reduction in time and effort involved, enhanced training of staff and more hours spent to directly tackle the backlog. Overtime will also be utilized to address the backlog of latents awaiting evaluation. We hope that thru the implementation of this project to decrease the substantial backlog of items to be processed and latents needing evaluation, and increase the efficiency and overall quality and timeliness of evidence processing by the department's Crime Scene Unit personnel. By accomplishing this, our agency anticipates an increase in the number of crimes solved and an increase in our Uniform Crime Rate clearance rate.