Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $551,535)
Idaho State Police Forensic Services (ISPFS) provides forensic services for approximately 1.6 million people in the state of Idaho. ISPFS performs all the forensic DNA testing for Idaho, including testing for all sexual assault evidence collection kits. Idaho has a 277 day average turnaround time for a DNA case with the oldest case in the lab being over 1161 days. There are currently 346 cases that have been in the lab over 30 days and 313 sexual assault kits that have been in the lab longer than 90 days. In the last four years, the number of DNA requests has increased by 75%. However, the efficiency of the lab has also increased. The number of cases completed by the lab has increased 240% since 2017 and were up close to 100% in the last year alone. ISPFS is always looking for ways to be more efficient and effective in the DNA unit.
ISPFS will continue to build upon the successes in the DNA unit by retaining a grant-funded DNA section technician and two DNA section analysts. We will also add one grant-funded DNA analyst (most likely a remote reporting analyst) to help analyze the data, write reports, and perform technical review for other scientists. Idaho is growing quickly and is one of the fastest growing states in the country. The state cannot keep up with the number of DNA analyst positions needed in the state.
ISPFS also plans to purchase a new liquid handling robot to increase the laboratory efficiency. The robot will further increase laboratory capacity and efficiency by assisting with high-throughput plate based normalization, quant, and amplification setup. These steps are currently labor and time intensive manual setup processes.
Funds will be allocated to bringing in training for new staff on STRmix software and paternity/kinship software and analysis. The grant funds will also be used to send analysts to training to meet FBI continuing education requirements and to stay current on analysis methods and techniques.