Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $3,098,293)
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), as mandated by Chapter 943 Florida Statutes, operates a statewide forensic crime laboratory system to provide timely, expert and professional examination of evidentiary materials to aid in the investigation, prosecution and exclusion of criminal offenses in the state of Florida. The Biology/DNA needs of Florida’s criminal justice community are serviced by a network of FDLE laboratories and five local laboratories that comprise the Florida crime laboratory system. FDLE has six internationally accredited DNA laboratories that provide Biology/ DNA analysis services.
The heavy demand for Biology services continued in 2020, with over 18,000 Biology cases released. The large volume of cases have been attributed to a number of factors including Florida’s 21 million population and continued high volume of reported crime (235,801 index crimes as of last available 2021 bi-annual report).
With funding provided under this award, the FDLE plans to achieve a reduction in the forensic DNA case backlog, increase in its laboratory capacity, and increase in the DNA analysis throughput of caseworking labs.
In order to reduce the DNA case backlog and increase laboratory capacity, the FDLE will fund overtime to be used for in-house casework, as well as outsource casework to private accredited laboratories. DNA analysis throughput will be increased by funding overtime for laboratory personnel and employing six full time temporary Forensic Technologists for case management. Without these Forensic Technologists, case management duties would fall on to case working analysts which would then negatively impact throughput and capacity. The FDLE will purchase essential consumables for DNA testing and entry into CODIS, as well as Departmental required training for all analyst trainees. Funding for equipment on validated platforms is requested in order to continue the Agency’s goal of laboratory capacity enhancement.
By focusing the project on personnel costs, training, supplies, equipment, and the outsourcing of casework, the FDLE hopes to greatly improve the timeliness and quality of forensic services while preventing a backlog of Biology casework.