Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $352,009)
The Paul Coverdell Forensic Sciences Improvement Grant allows qualifying forensic laboratories in Wisconsin to address the budgetary needs of non-DNA disciplines. Wisconsin agencies working in this collaborative effort include the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Forensic Sciences (DFS), the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office (MCME), the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH), and the Kenosha County Division of Health (KCDOH). In Wisconsin, the forensic demands and case complexity, including opioid related challenges, have continued to rise without a corresponding boost in the budget. In addition, forensic laboratories nationwide, including Wisconsin, have been impacted both budgetarily and operationally by the COVID 19 pandemic. To expand Wisconsin’s forensic impact, funds have been equitably distributed to maintain a high level of accurate and quality driven results, to improve the timely delivery of results, and to address emerging forensic science issues. To accomplish these objectives, Wisconsin will use the provided funds to increase training and educational opportunities, purchase proficiency tests, and address accreditation costs and certifications. In addition, Wisconsin will use funds to support staff positions, obtain opioid related laboratory supplies, and complete critical equipment acquisitions for the analysis of non-DNA cases. Overall, the accomplishment of these objectives will improve Wisconsin’s forensic capabilities and will also help ease the expanding demands of the state and local law enforcement agencies.