Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $331,814)
The Charlotte Crime Laboratory is a State designated existing crime laboratory that conducts analysis of DNA samples. All eligible DNA profiles obtained with funding from this program will be entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and, where applicable, uploaded to the National DNA Index System (NDIS). All DNA analysis performed under this program will be maintained under applicable federal privacy requirements and the CMPD Crime Laboratory will use funding provided under this program and will use NDIS DNA Data Acceptance Standards for all profiles uploaded to NDIS.
The CMPD will use federal funding to maintain four current federally funded positions and to contract with an outside agency to perform a DNA audit in accordance with the Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories. The CMPD has a limited budget for personnel and without this funding we would be unable to maintain these positions. The Quality Assurance Standards (QAS) requires an outside agency to perform a DNA audit every two years.
The workload of the Crime Laboratory Biology Unit (Lab) is growing and with that growth brings an increasing demand for DNA analysis. In the sexual assault kit category of DNA analysis, the CMPD is working to sustain and expand its current "fork lift" approach, to test all Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs) entered into the system. In 2015, the Laboratory received grant funding from the New York County District Attorney's Office to outsource the testing of 885 inventoried unsubmitted SAKs and in 2016 received additional funding through the BJA National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative to outsource another 300 unsubmitted SAKs. DNA Analysts have become overwhelmed due to the case load since every SAK tested by the private lab that results in an eligible profile requires a thorough review of the technical data and case file prior to uploading the profile in CODIS.
In addition to SAKs, the Lab also accepts evidence from additional case types such as property crimes, possession of firearm by convicted felon, kidnapping, and missing persons. The more success Lab has with requests for testing, the more requests they receive. In addition, the Lab receives numerous priority cases which disrupt the normal flow of casework.
The goals of this funding request includes 1) reduce the backlog of forensic biology/DNA cases; 2) maintain current laboratory capabilities; and 3) meet quality assurance standard requirements by having an outside agency perform a DNA Audit.