Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $284,950)
The Center for Forensic Sciences - Forensic Laboratories, a bureau organizationally located within the Onondaga County Health Department, include the disciplines of Latent Prints, Forensic Biology/DNA, Controlled Substances, Fire Debris, Firearms, and Digital Evidence. The geographic region served by the laboratory is primarily Onondaga County, with a population of approximately 462,872 and 18 local law enforcement agencies. The laboratories provide scientific analysis of submitted evidence in support of criminal investigations and prosecutions. The laboratories are accredited by ANAB (ANSI National Accreditation Board; ANSI = American National Standards Institute) and the New York State Commission on Forensic Science.
The Forensic Biology/DNA section consists of seven staff members, six of which are funded by local dollars. The section will utilize funds from this grant to continue to fund the position of the DNA Validation Specialist within the Forensic Biology/DNA Section for the purposes of performing validation studies on new analytical instrumentation, software, and laboratory methods. This will enable the analysts to focus on performing casework analysis and will bring newer technologies and methods to the section in a more timely fashion. The DNA Validation Specialist will also perform a limited amount of casework as time permits.
The Forensic Biology/DNA section will also use this award to fund overtime hours for analysts to increase throughput by increasing total bench hours. It is expected that the analysts will analyze at least 28 additional cases with the overtime funding from this award. The laboratory will also use this award to outsource analysis of 35 sexual assault kits to a vendor laboratory and to purchase equipment for a validation project. Funds will also be used to purchase mandated proficiency tests and to send six casework analysts to national conferences/symposia, both to meet accreditation requirements.
The funding from this grant will enable the Forensic Biology/DNA section to complete its plan to increase case throughput (capacity) and improve the quality of analysis, while reducing case backlog and case turnaround time.