Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $296,966)
The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory (ASCL) is a full service forensic laboratory serving the entire state of Arkansas. This includes 75 counties with a population of approximately 3 million individuals. The ASCL is accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) in the ISO17025 Program. The ASCL employs approximately ninety (90) analysts in the disciplines of CODIS, Forensic DNA, Drug Analysis, Forensic Toxicology, Physical Evidence (Trace and Serology Units), Firearms/Toolmarks, Latent Prints and Digital Evidence. In addition, the ASCL has a Medical Examiner's Office. Problem Statement: Arkansas is experiencing an increase in drug overdose and seized drug cases due to the opioid epidemic, which is causing a greater demand on analysis resulting in an increase in personnel in the Forensic Chemistry (seized drugs) section. Currently, the Forensic Chemists perform reporting tasks in their analytical workspace, and no space is available to add additional personnel as this trend continues. Project Strategy: Renovate existing space at the ASCL for the Forensic Chemistry section To provide professional development opportunities to forensic analysts and Medical Examiner staff To continue the ANAB and NAME accreditation programs Anticipated Outcomes: There will be improved efficiencies and capacities in Forensic Chemistry section and the ability to grow in this area if the caseload continues to increase. Attendees at National/Regional meetings and training seminars will enhance quality and/or timeliness improvements that can be implemented at the ASCL.