Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $267,156)
The Washoe County Sheriff's Office, Forensic Science Division (WCSO-FSD) is the agency that is responsible for analyzing forensic evidence associated with criminal investigations for all state and local law enforcement agencies within the northern region of the state of Nevada. The WCSO-FSD Biology Unit is responsible for overseeing DNA analysis and subsequent upload to NDIS of forensic profiles and DNA samples collected from all convicted felons and felony arrests within the northern portion of the state. As the designated state CODIS laboratory, they are responsible for uploading all eligible database profiles submitted from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Forensic Laboratory as well.
The number of cases that the WCSO-FSD Biology Unit receives each year has continued to rise. With the current staffing numbers, the Biology Unit is unable to keep up with the demand for DNA testing. With the creation of the Sexual Assault Kit Working Group in Nevada, it is expected that the number of sexual assault cases submitted to the laboratory for DNA testing will further increase the demand for DNA testing. This award will be used to fund a Criminalist position. This Criminalist will screen and prepare sample batches so that they are ready for DNA testing. This Criminalist will also complete the quality control functions needed within the Biology Unit. This grant will fund the outsourcing of 2,053 arrestee sample analysis and overtime needed for the in-house technical review and upload of these samples. These funds will be essential to ensure that these samples are rapidly processed and uploaded into CODIS. This award will be specifically used for the following goals:
1. Reduce the backlog and turnaround times of forensic biology/DNA cases and increase the capacity of the Biology Unit.
2. Ensure a rapid turnaround time of DNA database samples.
4. Provide continuing education for 5 DNA Criminalists in the laboratory.
The WCSO-FSD expects that the Criminalist will screen and prepare samples for approximately 360 Forensic Biology cases throughout the course of the grant. The laboratory expects to maintain a rapid turnaround time of 67 days or less for arrestee sample analysis; decrease the Forensic Biology casework turnaround time to less than 122 days; decrease the number of backlogged cases to less than 167, and increase the average number of samples analyzed per analyst per month to 30.