Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $980,962)
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) operates as Ohio’s official crime lab and provides criminal investigative services to local law enforcement agencies. The BCI’s Laboratory Division is responsible for testing DNA/biology cases it receives from any law enforcement agency in Ohio- free of charge. BCI operates four regional forensic science laboratories, in London, Richfield, Springfield, and Bowling Green, Ohio. The London and Richfield regional laboratories have full forensic DNA casework laboratories. DNA caseloads have increased significantly due to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative (SAK Testing Initiative) and Ohio Senate Bill 316 (S.B. 316). The initiative consisted of an open call to law enforcement to send untested sexual assault kits to BCI for testing, while S.B. 316 requires mandatory submission of untested sexual assault kits to a crime laboratory. The SAK Initiative and S.B. 316, in combination with the opioid epidemic, have significantly impacted caseloads above and beyond those generated by current offenses. The number of these DNA testing requests (DNA assignments) has risen continuously over the last several years and BCI anticipates this trend will continue. BCI received over 11,000 DNA assignments throughout 2019 –over a 250% increase from 2011 assignments. Bottlenecks identified throughout the DNA analysis process, such as changes in scientific approaches, have also impacted the processing capacity of BCI. Additionally, modified staffing in the lab due to COVID 19 has resulted in a backup of casework. Furthermore, to continue operation as an accredited crime lab, BCI must comply with continuing education requirements and FBI Quality Assurance Standards to ensure proper DNA analysis. With budget constraints imposed on the state, there is a lack of funding for BCI forensics scientists to attend training required for compliance. The expenses are unmanageable for BCI’s laboratories without the assistance of Federal aid. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office – Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Laboratory Division is requesting funding under the FY 2021 DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program (Formula) to address the costs associated with improving timeliness of DNA forensic services, process capacity, and accreditation compliance. It is anticipated the $980,962.00 program will begin on October 1, 2021.