Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $291,517)
The Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory (LSPCL) is the largest accredited DNA laboratory in the state of Louisiana and serves as the state's CODIS laboratory. LSPCL processes a large portion of the state's DNA cases and all of the state's arrestee and convicted offender samples. LSPCL serves as the State DNA Index System (SDIS) laboratory.
The State of Louisiana is facing stricter budgets, which directly impacts the funding available to LSPCL. This reduction in funding could reduce the funding available for laboratory staff, supplies, equipment, service contracts, and training. In addition to the reduction in funding, the Louisiana State Legislature mandated that each law enforcement agency report the number of untested sexual assault kits they have on hand.
This request prompted law enforcement agencies to submit many of these kits to LSPCL for analysis, which drastically increased the unit's caseload. Since this legislation, LSPCL has seen an almost 70% increase in submissions of sexual assault kits. Although LSPCL has made great progress to increase its capacity, the increase in sexual assault cases has dramatically impacted the backlog and turnaround times. In an effort to increase throughput, LSPCL hired and is now in the process of training additional DNA analysts. Additional equipment and training will be needed to meet the needs of these analysts and overtime will be needed to meet the demands of the increased caseload. In an effort to provide timely and accurate service to agencies submitting DNA evidence, LSPCL must increase their current level of capacity.
The goals of the projects funded by this grant are:
1. Reduce forensic and database DNA case/sample turnaround time;
2. Increase the throughput; and
3. Increase the knowledge of staff in current and future technologies to enhance the capabilities of the LSPCL.
LSPCL intends to achieve the above listed goals by providing overtime to analysts to process additional cases and CODIS samples, replacing outdated equipment, purchasing new equipment, and attending training to increase knowledge of the staff of new technologies. Providing additional equipment and replacing aging equipment will allow LSPCL to increase its capacity and decrease the backlog. The ultimate goal for LSPCL is to return to the ability to provide real-time support to investigating agencies on all cases. LSPCL expects there to be a decrease in the laboratory's backlog, a decrease in sample turnaround times, and a higher laboratory throughput to better service law enforcement agencies.