Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $265,125)
The Washoe County Sheriff's Office, Forensic Science Division (WCSO-FSD) is the agency that is responsible for analyzing forensic evidence associated with criminal investigations for all state and local law enforcement agencies within the northern region of the state of Nevada.
The WCSO-FSD Biology Unit is responsible for overseeing DNA analysis and subsequent upload to NDIS of forensic profiles and DNA samples collected from all convicted felons and felony arrests within the northern portion of the state. As the designated state CODIS laboratory, they are responsible for uploading all eligible database profiles submitted from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Forensic Laboratory as well.
The number of cases that the WCSO-FSD Biology Unit receives each year has continued to rise. With the current staffing numbers, the Biology Unit is unable to keep up with the demand for DNA testing. With the creation of the Sexual Assault Kit Working Group in Nevada and proposed legislation, it is expected that the number of sexual assault cases submitted to the laboratory for DNA testing will significantly increase the demand for DNA testing.
This grant will fund the outsourcing of DNA testing on 2,000 offender samples and overtime needed for the in-house technical review and upload of these samples. These funds will be essential to ensure that these samples are rapidly processed and uploaded into CODIS. This grant will fund the purchase of a 3500 genetic analyzer and associated supplies for validation and training; 2521 offender kits, and 445 sexual assault kits. This grant will also fund travel and training of 8 DNA analysts.
This award will be specifically used for the following goals:
1. Maintain a rapid turnaround time of DNA analysis of offender samples
2. Increase and maintain the capacity and capabilities of the WCSO-FSD casework and databasing laboratory
3. Provide continuing education for 8 DNA Criminalists in the laboratory.
The laboratory expects to maintain a rapid turnaround time of less than 87 days for offender sample analysis; decrease the Forensic Biology casework turnaround time to less than 200 days; decrease the number of backlogged cases to less than 257, and increase the average number of samples analyzed per analyst per month to >20.