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FY2015 Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $77,063)

Grand Rapids is the cultural, educational, industrial, and business center of West Michigan. Downtown venues and cultural attractions draw millions of visitors annually. The Grand Rapids Police Department serves a population of approximately 190,000 in a 44.6 square mile area. The Metropolitan Statistical Area is over 770,000.
During 2014, the GRPD wrote 75,209 reports, including 1,399 violent and 5,549 property crimes, requiring 24/7 crime scene investigation. The Forensic Services Unit is staffed with seven Crime Scene Technicians, two Latent Print Examiners, and one Forensic Services Manager. This highly skilled Unit provides quality crime scene work and fingerprint examination.
Like many cities, Grand Rapids faces financial challenges. Extraordinary measures, including personnel cuts and consolidation of services, have been used to balance the budget. Funds for training and new equipment have been severely limited.
The Unit faces the additional challenge of turnover due to departures and retirements. Between late 2013 and early 2016, 50% of the staff will have been replaced. The turnover equates to a loss of 120 years experience.
The Department realizes its obligation to continue to provide quality services performed by a well-trained staff. Our goal is the seamless transition from the departing employees to our new employees, without a decrease in service quality nor a resulting backlog.
This proposal seeks to:
1) Improve the quality and timeliness of forensic services through training:
• To ensure uninterrupted quality latent print examinations, provide training for one latent print technician for an upcoming vacancy in the Latent Print Unit. The LPE training requirements for the state’s AFIS certification are extensive and can take up to two years. Five initial training courses are requested. • To ensure thorough and timely crime scene investigations, provide training for four new CSTs. Formal training for the new employees is key to the Unit’s continued success. Bloodstain pattern analysis and shooting reconstruction are requested.
2) Improve the results, as well as timeliness of forensic services by acquiring new equipment and software.
• An optical comparator will allow side-by-side print comparison and provide a suite of photo editing tools for enhancement.
• A temperature and humidity controlled fuming chamber to improve print recovery during the cyanoacrylate fuming process.
The anticipated outcome would be no loss of service as properly trained employees will use state-of-the-art equipment and methods, faster turn-around time for examinations, and increased print recovery and identification. Goals are measurable through the department’s records and are attainable.

Date Created: September 16, 2015