Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $47,500)
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) is seeking funds through the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program to purchase a portable forensic laser. This new tool would enable PCSO's Forensic Science Division (FSD) to maintain advanced procedures on locating, documenting, and processing evidence from crime scenes. The portable system's powerful laser light source emits a specific monochromatic (one beam of light) laser beam at 532nm. Due to the intensity of the specific beam of light produced by the equipment, it has the ability to search for luminescent evidence, even in bright daylight. The scope of the laser includes fingerprint evidence, bone fragments, bodily fluids, hairs/fibers, and accelerants. Through the implementation of the Portable Forensic Laser Project, FSD staff will have access to equipment that can identify luminescent evidence either at the crime scene or in the lab. Through the use of the portable forensic laser system, FSD can realize another level of detection thus increasing the quantity and quality of forensic evidence recovered from crime scenes. Current processes for the identification of luminescent evidence use an alternative light source (ALS). Lasers are superior to an ALS due to the specificity of the light produced, which increases the chance for a peak luminescence to appear that can identify the location of evidence that would be invisible to the naked eye, and possibly an ALS. If funded, PC SO would be in a position to increase the ability of FSD to obtain physical evidence on-scene that may be undetectable with current equipment. The ability to use the portable forensic laser in broad daylight will eliminate the need to wait for dusk to deploy alternative equipment requiring decreased ambient light for use. PCSO's FSD provides some level of forensic science services to the entire county, comprised of 24 municipalities and a population of 944,971. The Project Manager will be responsible for the equipment acquisition,
training, developing operating procedures for the use of the equipment, and reporting
requirements. The goal of the project is to increase the quantity and quality of forensic
evidence recovered from crime scenes. The FSD will be able to evaluate improvements
through tracking the number of cases processed with the laser and the identification of positive results for luminescent evidence. An improvement in timeliness would be realized through the ability of FSD to process an outdoor crime scene in broad daylight without the need to wait for ideal lighting conditions.