Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $296,966)
The six Kentucky State Police Laboratories provide all forensic lab services to the entire Commonwealth. While there are a variety of Crime Scene Units at local law enforcement agencies, there are no other providers of forensic laboratory services to the criminal justice community in Kentucky. Continuous improvement is a real goal for the KSP Laboratories. In efforts to continue improving the quality of forensic science in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the laboratories brought the Latent Print/Friction Ridge Unit out of the KSP Records Section and into the Forensic Laboratory System. Overtime funding is requested to reduce backlogs in the Friction Ridge Section which routinely take up to twenty months to complete. Delayed results are problematic for investigators and the courts. The delays are compounded for evidence items requiring latent print, DNA, and firearm testing. The proposed overtime will significantly reduce these delays. Funds are requested for training of laboratory staff, including necessary training to maintain certification of analysts. One comparison microscope will be purchased to replace an outdated and failing microscope system. Three analytical balances are needed for Drug Chemistry efficiency. The Office of State Medical Examiners is requesting funds to purchase security equipment for the Frankfort office. The OSME provides death investigation services and forensic autopsy services for deaths that occur in Kentucky when authorized by County Coroners or the Court. All deaths that are sudden or unexpected or occur from other than natural causes must be reported to the County Coroner, who then may authorize a postmortem. The OSME in Louisville performed 1,825 postmortem examinations in CY2020 while the state’s second busiest office, Frankfort, performed 808. These investigative exams often consist of sudden, unexpected, or violent deaths and staff routinely collect postmortem specimens, evidence, personal effects, and drug evidence including: prescription pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs, and drug paraphernalia. The OSME Frankfort office does not have a camera system therefore, any employee or non-employee can access areas and could tamper with a decedent or take evidence that includes drugs, without being seen or recorded. The OSME typically operates with funds from the state general fund. However, as the state budget has been stressed over the past several years most agencies, including the OSME, have been asked to do more with less.