Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $238,608)
Pasco County occupies 868 square miles of land and is home to nearly 500,000 residents, making it the 12th most populated county and 6th largest unincorporated jurisdiction in Florida. When compared to all local (city and county) law enforcement agencies in Florida, Pasco Sheriff's Office (PSO) serves as the seventh largest population of any local law enforcement agency in Florida. Pasco County is centrally located on Florida's west coast, about 30 miles north of Tampa and 50 miles west of Orlando. As a result, Pasco County experiences many of the same problems with crime as those large metropolitan jurisdictions; however, unfortunately it does not have the same tax base as those jurisdictions, which adversely affects the funding of governmental agencies within the county to include PSO. Our annual budget is not as robust when compared to counties of similar size, which has forced the agency to streamline its operation and continuously look for ways to increase efficiency, enhance processes, and find alternative methods of funding for important projects to help achieve these goals.
To successfully fulfill the identified gap in the tracking and reporting of sexual assault kits (SAKs), PSO is requesting consideration to be awarded the funding needed through the SAFE-ITR program. These funds will afford PSO the ability to contract with a qualified vendor to develop software for a secured automated tracking system to ensure that we meet the standards set by the State of Florida Attorney General Adult and Child Sexual Assault Protocols, the Florida Department Law Enforcement (FDLE) laboratory submission guidelines, and the following Florida Statutes: 794.024, 925.11 and the newly created 943.326 (July 1, 2016).
Through the acquisition and utilization of funds from this grant, it is the goal of PSO to partner with other law enforcement agencies and the FDLE - Tampa office to establish a strategic plan aimed at improving the quality and coordination of all SAKs submitted. This tracking would begin from the moment the kits are collected up until their final disposition. The new system would also aid in our initiative as it would serve as the main tracking tool providing accountability for each item of evidence in our inventory, documenting the chain of custody every step of the way.
The SAFE-ITR program furthers our mission in seeking just penalties for those determined guilty by ensuring fair and impartial efforts as justice is being sought for each and every victim.