Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $296,966)
The Oregon State Police (OSP), Forensic Services Division (FSD) provides scientific, technical and investigative support to the criminal justice system through the collection and forensic analysis of evidence. The Division, accredited by ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to the ISO:IEC 17025:2017, provides the state’s only full service forensic laboratory system. The Division provides services to all criminal justice agencies from its five forensic laboratories located in Portland, Springfield, Central Point, Bend, and Pendleton. There are 138 authorized positions in the division. The increase in post-mortem casework received at the Portland Laboratory is directly related to the increase in the number of overdose deaths in Oregon, fueled by the opiate/opioid crisis. For the 24-month period between July 2019 and June 2021, morphine was the third most common drug observed, only behind cannabis and methamphetamine. After codeine, fentanyl was the fifth most common drug observed in post-mortem casework. In a report by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), opioid-involved deaths increased nearly 70% in the months of April and May 2020, compared to the previous two months. Although the laboratories in Portland and Springfield have a LCMSMS qTOF instrument, the Toxicology unit at the Portland Lab faces the potential problem of more samples to analyze than one instrument can accommodate. The number of post-mortem toxicology requests increased by over 30% in the past 12 months, resulting in a casework bottleneck leading to larger backlogs. All methods that test for drugs other than alcohol use this single LCMSMS qTOF instrument, therefore it is critical for the unit to have one available at all times to efficiently analyze casework. Because Toxicology is a high-volume discipline, any delays or interruptions impairs the laboratory’s ability to keep casework moving efficiently.