Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $150,000)
The Maine State Police Crime Laboratory is the state agency that is responsible for analyzing evidence associated with criminal investigations for all state and local law enforcement agencies within the State of Maine. We are the only full-service laboratory in Maine. Maine State law requires our state laboratory to be responsible for conducting DNA analysis on DNA database samples collected from all convicted felons and some misdemeanor offenders in the State of Maine; the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory is responsible for storing and maintaining the resultant profiles in the Maine DNA Data Bank.
The Maine State Police Crime Laboratory faces budgetary concerns which constrain our ability to hire additional state-funded staff. However, in the past few years we have been able to significantly reduce casework backlogs with two grant-funded analysts. We desire to continue with this success that would not be possible without the grant funds. We propose to use grant funds to support the continued salary of one of our trained, skilled, grant-funded DNA analysts while we attempt to obtain state funds to continue the work of the second DNA analyst that has worked under this grant.
Additionally, we have made huge strides in database backlog reduction. With past DNA Backlog Reduction Program funds we outsourced our entire database backlog and renovated space to create an in-house CODIS unit. Current state-funded staff is now able to keep up with new database samples. Whereas we continue to satisfy the needs of our databasing program we propose to use funds to further reduce casework backlogs. The area of bottleneck has been at the stage of screening. We propose to continue to employ a grant-funded forensic chemist with FY15 grant funds to process, record, and screen items for biological evidence for DNA testing.
Therefore, our proposal is to use the federal funding from the FY15 award to continue casework capacity enhancement of the laboratory by continuing to employ one current grant-funded part-time DNA analyst at 30 hours per week, and continue to employ one grant-funded full-time Forensic Chemist.
The goal of the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory is for the grant-funded screening chemist and DNA analyst to complete at least 150 DNA cases by the end of the award period. These cases would not be completed without this funding.