Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $296,966)
PAUL COVERDELL FORENSIC SCIENCE IMPROVEMENT GRANT PROGRAM FISCAL YEAR 2021 PROJECT ABSTRACT Forensic crime analysis demands in Nebraska continue to rise, straining agency resources and threatening the quality and efficiency of laboratory services. Over the past two years, the demands placed on the controlled substances section has pushed the section to a critical situation. Time consuming testing for 1% THC, suspected fentanyl and psilocybin mushroom cases have all severely impacted the Nebraska State Patrol Crime Laboratory’s (NSPCL) ability to meet its customer’s needs. In two years, these changes have increased the section’s turnaround time by over 700%. These numbers will continue to grow until additional laboratory resources (space, personnel, and instrumentation) are allocated. In 2020, the evidence section took on the task of CODIS Accessioning to allow the Biology Unit to better utilize its staff to address its backlog issues. In addition, the NSPCL is now accepting cases involving primer gunshot residue (PGSR) testing. Initial estimates indicate as many as 500 cases could be submitted annually. These two developments along with near record annual submissions are straining the evidence section. The FY2021award will be utilized for: Funding renovation of existing space to make room for additional controlled substances instrumentation. Funding the purchase of a Gas Chromatograph/ Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) for the controlled substances section. Continued funding of two evidence technicians to continue accessioning CODIS samples, and perform the ever increasing evidence management tasks associated with near record case submissions and anticipated PGSR case submissions. Essential discipline-specific training for several staff of the NSPCL. Continued Coverdell funding will enable the NSPCL to conduct forensic analysis utilizing qualified personnel, with reliable and modern technology. Under this project, the NSPCL will satisfy unmet priority needs, improving the quality and timeliness of forensic laboratory services to law enforcement agencies in Nebraska.