Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $455,599)
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s (CMPD) Crime Laboratory is accredited by the National Standards Institute National Accreditation Board (ANAB) and is comprised of five specialized sections that provide state of the art forensic services for the CMPD in addition to state and federal law enforcement agencies in Mecklenburg County. The CMPD's Crime Laboratory conducts forensic analysis in the disciplines of firearms, tool marks, shoe/tire impressions, latent fingerprints, illicit drugs, fire debris, blood alcohol, serology/DNA, and questioned documents.
With the success of DNA in solving violent and property crimes, the number of cases submitted to the CMPD’s Crime Lab for DNA testing has increased to a quantity that cannot be managed with the current number of City of Charlotte allotted positions. The CMPD is seeking $507,039 in federal funding to maintain four current federally funded positions and to purchase supplies to enhance the DNA testing process in the CMPD's Crime Lab.
The CMPD proposes to fund three full-time DNA analyst positions in addition to one full-time Crime Lab Technician position. Due to the CMPD having a limited budget for personnel, without this funding the lab would be unable to retain these positions. In the sexual assault kit category of DNA analysis, the CMPD is working to sustain and expand its “fork lift” approach, to test all Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs) entered into the system. The Crime Lab has implemented a Direct to DNA approach and has further streamlined the process by having support staff inventory and cut SAK’s. This process allows the DNA Analyst to take the samples directly to extraction which is the first step of the DNA testing process.
Funding these four positions will allow the CMPD to accomplish their goals of 1) Reducing the Backlog of Forensic Biology/DNA Cases and 2) Maintaining the Current Lab Capacities. The CMPD will achieve these goals by having the Crime Lab Technician alleviate some of the responsibilities normally performed by the DNA Analyst. Having the Crime Lab Technician perform these responsibilities will allow the DNA Analyst to process more cases and to focus on the bottlenecks occurring within the DNA process.
In addition, funds through this grant program will allow the CMPD to accomplish their goal of 3) Purchasing supplies. The CMPD will purchase supplies for the personnel funded through this grant program In an effort to enhance DNA testing in their Crime Lab.