Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $531,508)
Broward County is the 15th largest county in the United States and 2nd largest in the state of Florida which includes 31 municipalities and a current population totaling over 1.9 million people. The Sheriff of Broward County is charged with safeguarding residents and visitors by providing public safety services that enhance the quality of life for everyone in Broward. Among the public safety services is the Broward Sheriff Office’s (BSO) Regional Crime Laboratory which is part of the Statewide Criminal Analysis Laboratory System and offers forensic biology Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) analysis on evidentiary samples to all Broward municipalities and any federal agencies that may request services. The BSO Crime Laboratory DNA unit has 17 staff members; however, of these members, only eleven (11) Analysts are actively working on cases which includes an analyst funded by the City of Fort Lauderdale. The unit also includes a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) Administrator, a CODIS Co-Administrator, a Technical Analyst, and a Unit Manager. While the Crime Laboratory is challenged with a limited budget and nearly 2,000 new cases assigned to the DNA Unit of the laboratory each year, staff make every effort to meet the demands of its customers. Funding is requested to support three (3) grant-funded Analysts to enhance our laboratory’s work capacity, reduce the number of backlogged cases, and improve the turnaround time. The DNA Unit continuously makes improvements to the Standard Operating Procedures and other policies to maximize efficiency, improve sensitivity, and enhance work quality. As part of the process improvement efforts, the Unit is requesting funding for the purchase and implementation of an additional AutoMate Express Forensic DNA Extraction robot to increase sample throughput and prevent possible bottlenecks in sample processing as more analysts become qualified to perform forensic casework. Similarly, the Unit is requesting funding for the purchase and implementation of an additional STRmix Probabilistic Genotyping workstation to lessen current bottlenecks in sample interpretation and case turnaround time. Being part of a test-all state with mandated turnaround times for Sexual Assault evidence means that priority is given to these cases. Funding is also being requested to purchase sufficient quantitation and Y-STR typing chemistry to process the roughly 4,000 Sexual Assault evidence samples processed annually. This funding will ensure the delivery of services and optimize the potential informative value of critical sexual assault evidence samples.