Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $849,006)
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) operates as Ohios official crime lab and provides criminal investigative services to local law enforcement agencies. The BCIs Laboratory Division is responsible for testing DNA/biology cases it receives from any law enforcement agency in Ohio- free of charge.
BCI operates three regional forensic science laboratories throughout the state in London, Richfield, and Bowling Green, Ohio. The London and Richfield regional laboratories have full forensic DNA casework laboratories and forensic biology is performed at the Bowling Green regional laboratory.
DNA caseloads are increasing significantly due to implementation of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWines Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative (SAK Testing Initiative). The initiative consisted of an open call to law enforcement to send untested sexual assault kits to BCI for testing. As with the SAK Testing Initiative, the opiate epidemic has also significantly impacted caseloads.
DNA cases typically associated with drug offenses increased from 50 in 2011 to 430 in 2017 a 760% increase. Overall DNA assignments reached an all-time high in 2017 with a total of 10,338 assignments a 235.1% increase from 2011. Additionally, bottlenecks in the DNA analysis process and changes in scientific standards have an impact on caseloads.
Furthermore, to continue operation as an accredited crime lab, BCI must comply with continuing education requirements and FBI Quality Assurance Standards to ensure proper DNA analysis. With budget restraints imposed on the state, there is a lack of funding available for BCI forensics scientists to attend training and complete proficiency tests required for compliance. The expenses are unmanageable for BCIs laboratories without the assistance of Federal aid.
The Ohio Attorney Generals Office Bureau of Criminal Investigations Laboratory Division is requesting funding under the FY 2018 DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program to address the costs associated with improving timeliness of DNA forensic services and accreditation compliance. It is anticipated the $849,006.00 program will begin on January 1, 2019.
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