Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $447,892)
Scientific crime laboratories play a critical role in solving crime, they help solve cases and assist in identifying dangerous offenders, using innovative technology and scientific data. Having crime laboratories available is crucial to Arizona's criminal justice community and maintaining high standards of forensics must be a fundamental investment by federal, state, and local governments. The quality of work each lab provides is directly related to the proficiency and knowledge of the lab professionals employed within it. By using the latest technology, innovative industry practices, and gaining knowledge from ongoing education, Arizona’s forensic laboratories will continue to increase their value to the criminal justice community. In order to improve crime laboratories throughout the state of Arizona and address the challenges the opioid crisis has brought to the forensic science community, the grant funds will be used for training and educational opportunities, personnel overtime, purchasing new and innovative technology, preparing for accreditation, and laboratory certification fees. Agencies working in this collaborative effort include Arizona Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson police departments’ crime laboratories, and the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner. Laboratories will enhance components of the state strategic plan for forensic laboratory improvements by supporting recommendations to annually dedicate funding for training programs, overtime to reduce backlogs, and equipment purchases. Receiving funds from the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant will further the state’s ability to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner services.