Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $398,892)
FY21 DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program
The Maine State Police Crime Laboratory (hereinafter Lab) is the only full-service, accredited Lab in the State of Maine responsible for analyzing evidence associated with criminal investigations for all state and local law enforcement agencies. Maine law requires the Lab to conduct DNA analysis on samples collected from all convicted felons and some misdemeanor offenders and to store and maintain the resultant profiles in the Maine DNA Data Bank.
Ongoing budgetary challenges constrain our ability to hire additional state-funded staff. The Lab has successfully reduced casework backlogs with this program funding. We hope to increase the part-time grant funded hours of one DNA analyst to full-time hours, as a way to keep up with the increasing demand for DNA casework and to combat backlogs.
We hired a Forensic Chemist who performs the duties of a biology screener under FY14 grant funds and propose continuing that position with FY21 grant funds to process, record, and screen items for biological evidence and DNA testing.
We also propose to purchase a new walk-in freezer for the storage of DNA extracts to replace our old one, which is at capacity and faltering. The new freezer would have redundant motors to prevent loss of evidence. We are seeking grants funds for the purchase and any small balance would be paid with state funds.
We also propose to purchase one Thermo Mixer to replace one of our failing instruments due to vibration and age.
We expect to negotiate and create necessary contracts for maintenance, upgrades and technical support for certain federally funded grant equipment purchased from previous grant cycles.
As we continue to validate the Probabilistic Genotyping software (hereinafter PG Software) purchased with previous program funds, we need to purchase more DNA kits. In years past, we purchased genetic analyzers with program funds, which increased our production throughput by 100%, and this too requires additional DNA kits.
Our proposal is to use the federal funding from the FY21 award to accomplish the following objectives:
• Increase Lab casework capacity by funding the full-time hours for one DNA Analyst
• Continue to employ one full-time grant-funded Forensic Chemist
• Purchase additional DNA kits for the PG software validation project and increased efficiency of our genetic analyzers
• Negotiate contracts for maintenance, upgrades, and technical support of PG software and quantification instruments
• Purchase Thermo Mixer
• Purchase walk-in DNA freezer