Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $250,049)
Mesa Forensic Services is responsible for the collection and examination of evidence from crimes occurring within the community of over 511,000 residents, the 35th largest city in the U.S. Forensic Services is composed of: Biology, Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, Firearms and Toolmarks, Fire Debris and Explosives, Friction Ridge, Impressions, Seized Drugs, Scene Investigation, and Toxicology, and is accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board. During 2020, Biology processed over 3100 samples and prepared over 1300 reports. Mesa Forensic Services Biology Unit is an NDIS participant and has external audits, not less than once every two years, to demonstrate compliance with the Quality Assurance Standards established by the FBI. The most recent external audit was performed February 11-14, 2019. An external audit is scheduled for June 14-17, 2021. The laboratory intends to increase capacity by establishing new maintenance contracts for Biology equipment, establishing a contract to complete validation for equipment purchased on a previous federal grant, renovate existing space to provide additional space for the Biology Unit, alter existing laboratory microscopes from automated scanning to manual scanning and photography, and fund overtime for existing personnel. Funding in the amount of $250,000 will be used for the following goal/objectives: Goal 1: Increase the capacity of the Biology Unit. Objective A: Limit instrument down-time by establishing new contracts for preventative maintenance and service on unit instruments/equipment. Objective B: Increase extraction capacity by completing validation studies of a QiaSymphony robot purchased using funds from 2019-DN-BX-0062, so that it can be used for casework. Studies will be performed by an outside vendor after a contract is established. Objective C: Provide additional space in the Biology post-amplification area by renovating general laboratory storage space into space for thermal cyclers. Objective D: Increase the capacity for microscopic examination by altering two non-functional automated microscopes to manual scanning with photography functions. Goal 2: Reduce the backlog. Objective A: Fund overtime and fringe benefits for 6 forensic scientists and 1 supervisor to work a minimum of 50 cases. The number of untested/not completed forensic biology/DNA cases on hand on December 31, 2020 was 135. Our goal is reduce this by approximately 37% to 85. The 2020 overall average turnaround time for DNA reports is approximately 56 days, with violent crime being approximately 50 days and nonviolent crime being approximately 67 days. The laboratory expects to reduce this overall average turnaround time by approximately 10% to approximately 50 days.