Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $230,219)
The Regional Forensic Science Center (RFSC) is a department within the Sedgwick County Division of Public Safety that provides forensic services to the city of Wichita, Kansas and surrounding cities within Sedgwick County. The RFSC houses the Office of the District Coroner and Forensic Science Laboratories. The laboratory faces challenges related to increased number of sexual assault submissions, a 35% increase in the number homicide cases during 2020, and the promotion of qualified DNA scientists to positions with expanded administrative/management duties. Significant bottlenecks exist for body fluid examinations and DNA testing due to lack of fully trained DNA scientists and ongoing validations required alongside casework analysis. Sedgwick County continues to struggle with limited resources and when new equipment or software is acquired, funding is rarely available for validation or ongoing maintenance agreements, both of which are required for continued compliance with FBI Quality Assurance Standards (QAS). This funding will be used to enhance DNA typing capability by providing supplies, equipment, and software for analysts in training, to equip trainees and qualified scientists with ergonomic and efficient workspace, and to provide all scientists with instrumentation that meets the requirements set forth by industry quality assurance standards and accreditation requirements. This enhances the capacity of the workforce within the Biology/DNA section so that more cases can be tested, provides improved screening tools for identification of probative stains, and allows continued use of automated systems that are critical for every step of the analytical process. All of these objectives will result in faster turn-around times and an overall decrease in the accumulated backlog.