Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $58,771)
The Highlands County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) provides law enforcement services in a rural portion of south Florida serving over 1,100 acres and approximately 100,000 people. Budgetary restraints and limited financial resources have made it difficult to effectively inventory and track sexual assault kits (SAKs). The goal and objective of this program is to obtain and implement the technology to accurately and efficiently perform a comprehensive inventory of existing SAKs. In addition to implementing the technology to perform the inventory, the technology will enable the agency to establish and maintain accountability of the existing and newly obtained SAKs. Currently, the agency does not have any technology to perform the tasks required in an efficient and effective manner, and must rely on manual processes, which are antiquated and very labor intensive.
Technology exists which will automate the intake of SAKs. The technology will eliminate the manual processing of SAKs, and provide a web-based platform that will track the SAKs from initial collection throughout the process including -- but not limited to -- sending to the lab, returning from lab, status reporting, and case identification.
The tools and additional features from the implementation of the technology will enable the agency to be more responsive to prosecutors and victims, and provide state-of-the-art chain-of-custody security which should improve prosecution outcomes. The Highlands County Sheriff's Office expects to use the technology to improve the function of evidence processing, not just for SAKs, but for the evidence unit as a whole. The agency expects to implement the technology promptly, and provide periodic reporting of progress.
In summary, implementation of the proposed evidence processing technology will dramatically improve the capability and accountability of all evidence in the custody and control of the Highlands County Sheriff's Office. Implementation of the project will allow the Sheriff's Office to provide regular and accurate reporting to the DOJ as required under this project, and improve the value of DNA evidence obtained from the lab due to better evidence processing functionality. All of these benefits will be obtained without increasing labor costs to the agency. ca/ncf