Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,311,637)
Requests for forensic services are handled by six Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) regional crime laboratories, and five county laboratories (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Indian River) that are part of Florida’s crime laboratory system. Florida’s Division of Investigative and Forensic Services handles arson investigations and death investigations are handled by one of 25 district medical examiners who are governed by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission (MEC). FDLE serves as staff for the MEC. FDLE will submit the application for the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant formula funds on behalf of all agency members of Florida’s crime laboratory system, Division of Investigative and Forensic Services and MEC. These partners have agreed to a distribution methodology that provides a base amount of funding to Florida’s Medical Examiners, with the remaining funds to be distributed to the state and local crime laboratories on the basis of population served. Although better case management, streamlined processing, and increased case work capacity have helped laboratories increase output and reduce backlogs in some disciplines, and slow the growth of backlogs in others, large numbers of pending cases remain throughout the state laboratory system. Medical examiners are facing the challenge of providing timely services to meet the increasing volume of service requests within their respective districts due to outdated technology and limited resources. Through self-assessment, the state and local laboratories and medical examiner offices have identified and prioritized their agencies’ needs, and are requesting Coverdell funds for personnel, equipment, training, supplies and contracted services to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic and medical examiner services throughout the State. PROJECT GOALS AND OBJECTIVES 1. Reduce analysis time for cases submitted to state and county crime laboratories; 2. Reduce backlogs in the analysis of forensic science evidence; 3. Improve timeliness of medical examiner services throughout Florida; and 4. Train forensic laboratory and medical examiner personnel to improve quality and timeliness of services and eliminate case backlogs.