Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $370,899)
FY 2021 DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program Project Abstract
The Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Laboratory (NIRCL) is a designated unit of local government that has been in existence since 1968 and has been performing DNA analysis since 1998. NIRCL is responsible for analyzing evidential material associated with criminal investigations for the majority of local agencies in Lake County, IL as well as in Cook, Will and McHenry counties in Illinois. NIRCL’s goal is to provide the highest quality DNA analysis with the best turnaround time possible. Funding from this grant is imperative for the operation of the DNA section and will address the following goals: decrease the backlog by reducing the turn-around time of DNA analysis, purchase supplies and equipment to maintain case flow and improve productivity and to provide required education for DNA analysts to stay abreast of current trends and technologies.
NIRCL has experienced an increase in the number of agencies served and the demand for DNA analysis. NIRCL is fortunate for the growth of the laboratory, however it comes with budgetary constraints because the cost of DNA supplies continues to increase every year. Funding from this grant is imperative to the operation of the DNA section. One of the most important goals is to provide our customer with timely results without taking away from quality. One-way NIRCL strives to accomplish this is to provide a fast turn-around time of 35 days. This will help our customers complete their judicial duties and also aide the State’s Attorney’s Office in faster trials. The grant has allowed NIRCL to maintain two grant-funded employees on staff. With the use of the grant-funded employees the goal of streamlining case screening and providing additional DNA analysis can be achieved. The grant-funded employees have historically provided a huge impact on the biology/DNA section based on the number of cases they have analyzed. During the lifetime of the grant the grant-funded DNA analyst is anticipated to analyze over 100 cases, the grant-funded Biologist over 400 and between all DNA analysts over 1,200 cases. Another goal is to maintain biology and DNA processing by purchasing essential DNA supplies and chemistries to perform these analyses and new equipment to provide state of the art analysis faster. The EZ2 Fx Connect instruments will help process more samples and allow for multiple analysts to be extracting samples at the same time. The DNA analysts at NIRCL continue to keep the DNA section current by continually learning, which is so important in the ever-changing world of DNA. NIRCL aims to use the latest technologies so that our customer can receive the best service possible.