Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $250,000)
The Cuyahoga County Regional Forensic Science Laboratory (CCRFSL) under the Medical Examiner’s Office (CCMEO) is accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB). The laboratory supports the investigative functions of the Medical Examiner and law enforcement by conducting scientific examinations in the areas of Controlled Substance, DNA, Fingerprints, Firearms, Trace Evidence, and Toxicology analysis. The laboratory is responsible for analyzing evidentiary material associated with criminal investigations for the city of Cleveland and the entire metro area of Cuyahoga County which includes about 59 municipal agencies and another dozen or so specialized or county-wide agencies. It is not clear how casework production will fluctuate during 2021 and the 2021-2023 project period, however, an increase in casework is expected based on the staggering increases of violent crimes coupled with the continuing increases caused by the opioid crisis where the County has the highest overdose decedent count of Ohio’s 88 counties. Cuyahoga County is home to Cleveland, its largest city, which is plagued as 1st in the state and 6th most violent in the Nation with 5,791 violent crimes and now being further fueled as the poorest city in the Nation according to the most recent 2019 U.S. Census and FBI-UCR available data.
Notwithstanding, the Medical Examiner’s Office and its Regional Forensic Science Laboratory has limited funds, further exaggerated by the County’s significant loss of revenues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Funding is needed to address the increased demand and requirements to process and validate casework for the CCRFSL’s Trace Evidence and Firearms/Toolmark Units and herein makes application for the budgeted total of $250,000 in funding for two (2) full time forensic scientist as it remains critical to build capacity and reduce backlog to benefit law enforcement prosecution of crime and increase the safety for the citizens it serves. Given these increases in cost and casework; the CCRFSL is optimistic to increase capacity and throughput while reducing backlog as a result of this funding.