Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $150,000)
The Indian River Crime Laboratory (IRCL) provides scientific and technical services to law enforcement agencies within the 19th Judicial Circuit of Florida including: St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee and Martin counties.
With a staff of 14 employees, the laboratory serves a population of greater than 620,000 individuals. The Forensic Biology Unit (FBU) currently has two full time caseworking analysts, one part-time caseworking analyst and two full time trainees that are on track to be competent to screen casework by summer 2017 and become full DNA caseworking analysts by mid-year 2018.
The FBU on average receives approximately 420 requests for analysis and reports out approximately 285 requests annually. With the current staffing and diverted resources to train two new hires, the IRCL has only been able to meet approximately 70% of its submitted workload on average annually. As of January 1, 2017 the unit has amassed a backlog of just over 900 cases.
The Indian River Crime Laboratory recognizes that its current level of staffing cannot keep pace with the average number of requests per year. An evaluation of current resources has identified several current and anticipated bottlenecks, which if not addressed, will have a significant negative impact on the FBU backlog.
In an effort to address the backlog and mitigate the anticipated diversion of resources for training new analysts, the IRCL is proposing to use of the majority of this funding toward the goal of increasing capacity through improving quality of processes and equipment, educational opportunities and outsourcing contracts to reserve internal resources to work incoming requests.
The following identified bottlenecks will be addressed with this program:
-Technical review of data received from cases outsourced to private laboratories
-Validation studies necessary to implement an automated extraction system designed to assist in sexual assault related samples
-Evidence documentation system availability during the screening process
-Personnel resources to address the finite long-term freezer storage of accumulated DNA samples
-Error management education to promote preventative approaches to minimize resource diversion from casework analysis
The proposed approaches to these bottlenecks are detailed in the Program Narrative of the application, including a list of the goals and objectives. It is anticipated with a successful completion of the proposed project, the increase in capacity will result in a 20% decrease in the Forensic Biology Unit backlog of cases.