Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $150,000)
The Michigan State Police (MSP) Forensic Science Division (FSD) is the primary provider of forensic services to the State of Michigan. The MSP FSD is comprised of seven laboratories that provide services in Biology, Latent Prints, Questioned Documents, Trace Chemistry, Toxicology, Controlled Substances, Firearms/Toolmarks, and Crime Scene Response. Like many forensic laboratories, FSD has consistently held backlogs and struggled with turnaround times. Despite evaluations, innovation, and implementation of efficiency measures in the Toxicology unit, the past decade has brought increased case submission volumes. The biggest change has been in the number of cases that require drug analysis. Over the past decade, that number has increased from approximately 25-30% to 40-45%. The complexity of the cases has changed as well, with more designer drugs present than there were a decade ago.
To ensure the highest level of forensic services and investigative support to the criminal justice community in the State of Michigan, the MSP FSD must continue to improve its processes to reduce backlogs and turnaround times. Case management strategies and overall improved service delivery is necessary to ensure the system is functioning at its highest possible capacity. The toxicology unit has evaluated the investigative support it offers and determined that it can be enhanced. Ultimately, the goal is to screen all submitted cases for the presence of drugs. The only way to ensure that backlogs and turnaround times do not increase is to utilize automated sample preparation technology.