Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $456,832)
The Broward Sheriffs Office Crime Laboratory DNA unit has thirteen (13) staff members; however, of these members only six (6) are actively working cases. There are three (3) analysts in training; one (1) full-time CODIS administrator; one (1) technical analyst; one (1) forensic technician, and one (1) unit supervisor. With nearly 2,000 cases coming into the laboratory each year and a limited budget, we are striving to meet the demands of our customers. We are requesting funding for three (3) grant-funded Criminalist I or II analysts; laboratory supplies and consumables; annual mandatory training for DNA analysts; external audit expenses for accreditation; and a stand-alone DNA module that can interface with the existing Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). These funds are essential to enable our unit to perform in-houses analysis of the approximately 1,650 cases in backlog. As mentioned above, continued funding is requested for three (3) Criminalist I or II analysts. We anticipate a significant improvement in case productivity once these analysts are fully trained. Funding is also being requested for laboratory supplies and consumables. This additional funding for laboratory supplies and consumables will enable us to process more cases and more samples. Not only are we are seeing a growing number of case submissions, but also we are being asked to process more samples per case. Training seems to suffer the most with budget constraints afflicting the department. Funding is being requested for training. A minimum of eight (8) hours of continuing education are required to meet the DAB and QAS requirements for compliance. Those analysts that are certified by the American Board of Criminalistics have even greater requirements for continuing education to maintain their certifications. In addition, we are requesting funds to have an external audit performed as they are no longer offered at no cost. In an effort to become a paperless department, we are also seeking to purchase a DNA module compatible with the existing Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). We have not been able to validate the DNA workflow component of the existing LIMS system. The stand-alone DNA module that we would like to purchase is one that can be specifically modified for the protocols and procedures in our laboratory and that is amenable to protocol changes in the future. The DNA workflow would be entirely web-based, eliminating the need for copious amounts of paperwork, and one serve as a central repository for case records.