Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $2,180,552)
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), as mandated by Chapter 943 Florida Statutes, operates a statewide forensic crime laboratory system to provide timely, expert and professional examination of evidentiary materials to aid in the investigation, prosecution and exclusion of criminal offenses in the state of Florida.
The biology/DNA needs of Florida's criminal justice community are serviced by a network of FDLE laboratories, and five local laboratories that comprise the Florida crime laboratory system. FDLE has six internationally accredited DNA laboratories that provide biology/DNA analysis services.
The heavy demand for biology services continued in 2016, with over 20,000 Biology cases released. The large volume of cases have been attributed to a number of factors including Florida's population of 20 million, and continued high volume of reported crime (662,372 index crimes as of last available report in 2015).
With funding provided under this award, the FDLE plans to achieve a reduction in the forensic DNA case backlog, an increase in DNA analysis throughput, and an increase in laboratory capacity.
In order to reduce the DNA case backlog and increase laboratory capacity, the FDLE will fund overtime to be used for in-house casework, as well as outsource casework to private accredited laboratories. Due to the state of Floridas focus on reducing the backlog of sexual assault kits (SAKs), the FDLE has developed a significant backlog of non-SAKs. The FDLE plans to use grant funds budgeted to the outsourcing of DNA casework to target those non-SAK cases. DNA analysis throughput will be increased by funding overtime for laboratory personnel and employing six full-time temporary Forensic Technologists for case management. Without these Forensic Technologists, case management duties would fall on to case working analysts which would then negatively impact throughput and capacity.
By focusing the project on personnel costs and the outsourcing of casework, the FDLE hopes to greatly reduce the laboratory systems backlog of casework.