Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $1,022,022)
The goal of this proposal is to reduce the casework backlog and turnaround time for casework completed by the Biology Section of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Scientific Services Bureau (LASD-SSB).
The LASD-SSB faces many challenges heading into 2018. The lab is still operating under a 2010 mandate by the former Sheriff to process every sexual assault kit collected by the Sheriff Stations and law enforcement agencies within the county. LASD also continues to receive an increasing number of non-sexual assault case requests each year. Additionally, the laboratory underwent a major technology shift in 2016 to a more complex DNA kit. This has resulted in slower turnaround times and an increased backlog as analysts have more data to analyze and review before they issue reports.
In 2017, trained DNA analysts will be learning mixture interpretation software. This software will assist them with complex mixture interpretation that should make interpretations faster and therefore lower casework turnaround times. The duration of training is still to be determined, but during this time it is likely that there will be a slowdown of casework while the analysts train, which may increase the backlog heading into late 2017/early 2018.
To mitigate some of this slow down, a portion of the FY2017 CEBR budget will be used to send approximately 180 cases out to contract laboratories. By reducing the number of cases worked in-house, the impact of the aforementioned software training on the backlog is mitigated.
Funding will also be allocated for personnel overtime and associated benefits, so that backlogged cases can be processed and reviews of contract lab data from outsourced cases can be conducted.
The Biology section of the LASD-SSB is one of sixteen units that require funding within the Bureau, yet consumes almost two-thirds of the entire Bureaus budget to function. About 40% of the funding from this award will be used to provide the DNA section with essential supplies necessary to process casework. Without the funding from this award, the DNA section would struggle to get the supplies necessary to complete casework.
The Scientific Services Bureau still operates with reduced funding for training opportunities, so the FY2017 CEBR grant will be used to provide training for 34 analysts, which is approximately 79% of the personnel that will require a minimum of 8-hours of continuing DNA education in 2018. This funding will also provide continuing education training for ten analysts early 2019.