Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $524,373)
The Scientific Investigation Section (SIS) of the Honolulu Police Department is responsible for analyzing evidence associated with criminal investigations for the City and County of Honolulu. The SIS maintains the only forensic deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) laboratory in the state of Hawaii. Due to its unique function in the Pacific Basin, the laboratory processes cases for local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. It is also responsible, by statute, for the state's convicted offender databasing program and ensuring the timely testing of all police-reported sexual assault kits. The laboratory's backlog has surged in recent years due to mandated sexual assault kit testing legislation and increased demands for property crime testing. Unfortunately, due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19, the SIS is facing unprecedented budget reductions in upcoming years. Hiring freezes have been implemented and operating budgets are reduced. If the shortfall cannot be addressed, it will detrimentally impact the number of DNA samples that can be analyzed, turnaround times, and backlogs. It will adversely impact the SIS's ability to meet legislatively mandated turnaround times, keep pace with incoming DNA case demands, and provide forensic services in other disciplines. Funding from this award will be used to maintain DNA analyst staffing levels, purchase much needed DNA testing supplies, and provide FBI-QAS required continuing education for staff.