Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $591,506)
The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) Office of Forensic Sciences (OFS) maintains five forensic laboratories, which service over nine million residents in New Jersey. The system is comprised of four facilities: the Hamilton Technology Complex, which houses the Central Regional and DNA Laboratories, and the North, East, and South Regional Laboratories. The Technology Complex is a full-service laboratory responsible for analyzing evidentiary material associated with criminal investigations. This includes DNA analysis of the core Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) loci and analysis of convicted offender and arrestee samples for entry into the State and National Combined DNA Index Systems. The four Regional Laboratories provide drug and toxicology analysis. Additionally, Central Regional Laboratory provides trace analysis, while the South, East, and Central Regional Laboratories provide arson analysis and are responsible for taking in forensic biology cases. Funding for training will cover travel and registration costs and enable 22 analysts to attend DNA- related conferences. These include: American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), Qiagen Investigator Forum, Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists (MAAFS), Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists (NEAFS), Bode DNA Conference, International Symposium on Human Identifications (ISHI), CODIS Conference, and Green Mountain DNA Conference. Funding for equipment and supplies will increase the capacity of the DNA Laboratory and allow for upgrading and replacement of existing equipment. These include refrigerators, laminar flow hoods, and a pass-through window, which will allow for the transfer of pre-amplified DNA product into a cleanroom while reducing the potential for contamination. Funding will also be used to purchase laser alternate light sources and cameras, which will enable Crime Scene and Trace Evidence examiners to locate and document potential sources of DNA while processing crime scenes. Equipment and supplies for the validation of the M-Vac system will be purchased. This system will be validated by the Forensic Biology Unit as an alternate sample collection method. An upright digital microscope will also be purchased, which will be used by the Trace Evidence Unit to better visualize human hair roots that are suitable for nuclear DNA analysis. Funding will allow for in-house training for the entire DNA Laboratory staff in 2023 to meet the requirements for annual continuing education. It is expected that funding from the FY21 DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction Grant Program will result in an increased overall capacity and efficiency of DNA analysis and will reduce the current backlog in the NJSP OFS DNA Laboratory.