Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $144,347)
The City of Fort Wayne Police Department Digital Forensics Laboratory is experiencing substantial increases in quantity and complexity of digital evidence presented for criminal investigation examination.
The proliferation of digital devices in society includes those involved in misconduct who utilize them as tools for criminal activities. Lab caseloads are heavy, as 2018 sets a record pace for homicides and opioid-related activity stresses resources department-wide with a 2017 increase of 147 percent in heroin cases over 2016 and fentanyl seizures rising from 11 in 2016 to 1,504 last year. As cases rise and all electronic evidence become more complex to examine, this lab is increasing staff levels to combat substantial backlog and turnaround time, and to enhance quality.
The department seeks Coverdell funding for examiner training, certification, and purchase of updated, adequate equipment to better respond to community public safety needs and to assist the departments goal to seek lab accreditation within two years. This project represents the most cost-effective and impactful means to acquire much needed forensic tools, and increase personnel output and capabilities.
If Coverdell resources are secured for training and the acquisition of adequate lab equipment, the department commits to adding one more permanent, full-time examiner at the start of the January 2019 grant performance period supplementing the recent personnel increase the first increase in six years. This commitment along with the requested Coverdell-funded equipment and training will reduce computer processing time from 51 to 14 days, and cell phone processing from 22 to 7 days. This is an overall reduction in backlog of evidence by 64.5 percent in mobile examinations, by 58.93 percent in computer examinations, and by 88.27 percent in video examinations. This substantial improvement will reduce or eliminate backlog and adequately trained digital forensic staff will significantly enhance the quality of forensic examinations conducted and will positively impact prosecution efforts.
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