Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $189,565)
The Pinellas County Sheriffs Office Forensic Sciences Division (FSD) realize the need to address the issue of opioid and other synthetic drugs that are being seized within the county, but requires additional equipment to process these submissions in a safe and timely manner. The lack of a dedicated and safe location for the processing of opioid contaminated items for latent fingerprints has resulted in a moratorium for requests. The addition of a laser system, a climate controlled chamber, and a fentanyl containment hood will provide a safe laboratory space and equipment for the forensic processing of fentanyl or other opioid-synthetic contaminated items. The increase in quantity and variety of novel synthetic drugs, primarily but not exclusively in the form of fentanyl-based opioids and other novel psychoactive substances (NPS), in seized drug submissions has resulted in critical bottlenecks in the analytical process. Funding from this award would be used to address these issues by purchasing a gas-chromatograph with an infrared detector (GC-IRD) capable of separating complex mixtures and providing structure-specific data for identification of positional isomers that are common novel drug submissions, a limitation of more commonly used instruments The inclusion of an auto-sampler will result in an efficient and effective method for identification. The desired/projected outcome of this award is to increase the efficiency and productivity in this analytical unit and accelerate the identification of new opioids and NPS. The projected outcome of this project would be to reduce the average turnaround time of seized drug cases to less than 20 days.