Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $321,946)
The Cuyahoga County, Ohio Regional Forensic Science Laboratory (CCRFSL) is the primary accredited DNA Analysis Laboratory for Cuyahoga County and the region, serving the 2nd largest population in Ohio and maintains FBI Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories for inclusion in the Combined DNA Index System/National DNA Index System. In 2014, the Lab completed a $2.5 Million expansion and thereafter began offering free testing to all area jurisdictions. As a result, the Lab has continued to experience significant increases in DNA casework while it continues to implement more stringent case acceptance policies and procedures in efforts to increase capacity and throughput with 1,442 requests processed in 2018, 1,543 in 2019 and 1,181 in 2020. The 2020 decrease was a result of worker shortages and lab access restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It is not clear how cases will fluctuate during 2021 and the 2021-2023 project period, however, an increase in casework is expected based on the staggering increases of violent crimes within the County. Cuyahoga County is home to Cleveland, its largest city, which is plagued as 1st in the state and 6th most violent in the Nation with 5,791 violent crimes and now being further fueled as the poorest city in the Nation according to the most recent 2019 U.S. Census and FBI-UCR available data.
The CCRFSL has limited funds to address the increased costs of casework and acquiring the budgeted total of $321,946 in funds is critical in building capacity and reducing backlog to benefit law enforcement prosecution of crime and increase the safety for the citizens it serves. The majority of funding has been allocated to forensic casework consumable supplies and is required to meet Goals 1-2 within the application. Goal 3 will be achieved through allocation of 3.9% of the total budget for DNA staff attendance at one training event to maintain continuing education and accreditation requirements. Given these increases in cost and casework; the CCRFSL is optimistic to increase capacity and throughput while reducing backlog as a result of this funding.