Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $53,219)
The Harrisonburg Police Department (HPD) is the primary law enforcement agency for the City of Harrisonburg, Virginia. The department's 107 sworn full-time officers serve a population of approximately 52,478 and the city encompasses an area of 17.4 square miles. The department's Digital Evidence Forensic Laboratory (HPD-DEFL) conducts digital forensic examinations for digital evidence presented by the HPD. The HPD-DEFL also conducts examinations for regional agencies located within an approximate 60-mile radius from the City of Harrisonburg. The agencies have included federal agencies, state agencies, multiple sheriff's offices, local prosecutors, and numerous surrounding towns. The HPD-DEFL currently has one examiner assigned to the unit with a part-time technician assisting with technical duties.
The overall goals of the proposed grant project include the HPD-DEFL achieving accreditation in the Digital and Multimedia Evidence discipline through the ASCLD/LAB accrediting body, improving the HPD-DEFL's ability to acquire data from mobile devices when standard commercial options are not viable, improving the laboratory's efficiency and overall quality, and improving upon the timeliness of examination requests, effectively reducing the laboratory's backlog.
The identified problems, or challenges impeding optimal performance of the HPD-DEFL include the increasing volume and complexity of examination requests, especially from mobile devices, while maintaining a high level of quality for those examinations, the increasing backlog of examinations as a result of the increased volume and difficulty in providing examination results in a timelier manner, and the fact that the HPD-DEFL needs to address staffing and the preparatory steps in order to successfully pursue accreditation.
The HPD-DEFL's 2016 program design has been generated after careful consideration of the goals and challenges mentioned above. The design includes the addition of two CFCE Certified Examiners, the creation and completion of crucial documents and manuals related to the goal of accreditation, the addition of a more forensically sound manner for acquiring mobile devices, the training and implementation of advanced mobile device acquisition methodology, the addition of new computer equipment aimed at improving quality, timeliness and efficiency, and outlining specific timeliness and backlog objectives that provide an important benchmark for future operations.
If accepted, the organizers of this proposal are confident that the City of Harrisonburg, through its police department, will meet the expectations of the National Institute of Justice and realize the goals as established in this request for funding.
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