Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $456,896)
The Hennepin County Forensic Lab is proposing to continue salary support for the labs existing Validation Specialist and hire one additional Forensic Technician to support the DNA lab in the pre-processing of DNA evidence. These support personnel will allow existing staff to dedicate their efforts to working on forensic DNA samples, while the support staff will take care of the initial evidence pre-processing steps and manage the validation and quality improvement projects.
A forensic technician will focus on completing high volume, repetitive pre-processing procedures to prepare a forensic sample for subsequent DNA tests. In our lab this has been shown to decrease the amount of time an item waits for the preprocessing step and decrease the overall turnaround time for the average case.
The amount of time and resources needed for a forensic DNA lab to validate new technology increases year after year drains resources from casework analysis. A validation specialist allows the lab to complete validation experiments faster, improve the DNA process with new/better technology and free the DNA staff to focus their efforts on completing more casework requests.