Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,091,280)
According to the 2018 Crime in the United States report from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the City of Philadelphia, which has 12.4% of the state’s population, accounted for 42.7% of the Violent Crimes reported in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. While addressing the increasing levels of violent crime, the resources provided to the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) have not kept pace with the rise in crime. In the City of Philadelphia for 2020, there were drastic increases in the number of Homicides (36%) and Aggravated Assaults (46%) from the previous year. As the forensic DNA service provider for the City of Philadelphia, the Criminalistics Unit of the Office of Forensic Science (OFS) has experienced more than a 20% increase in forensic DNA analysis requests in 2020. Increases in the sensitivity of DNA technology and the success of CODIS entries have resulted in the increased application of DNA analysis to any evidence that is handled/touched by an individual probative to the investigation. However, due to resource limitations, hundreds of cases are added to the backlog each year. In order to deal with the challenges of staffing, process bottlenecks and limited facility space, the OFS developed a comprehensive strategy to utilize base and grant funds to streamline processes and ultimately increase productivity. As the strategy to increase efficiency continues, the focus of this grant proposal is to further increase the operational capacity through resources in the form of overtime and outsourced vendor services.
The goals of this proposal are to increase the operational capacity and decrease the backlog of cases in the Criminalistics Unit. The Criminalistics Unit plans to decrease the backlog of untested cases through continued outsourcing. The proposed efforts are expected to increase the current level of outsourcing, eliminating at least 650 cases from the backlog. Additionally, the Criminalistics Unit plans fund overtime to process additional current casework, perform technical reviews, and conduct the QAS reviews of outsourced cases. This objective increases internal capacity and prevents the outsourced cases from decreasing their normal productivity. Lastly, the Criminalistics Unit will utilize funds to provide training and travel for the DNA Technical Leader and Assistant CODIS administrator to attend the annual CODIS Meeting.