Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $480,000)
Applicant Name: Spokane County
Title of Project: Spokane Sheriff COPS Technology – Rapid DNA Testing
Project Goals: The goal for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Rapid DNA program is to establish an effective and timely DNA collection and profiling program. Establishing this program will assist the Sheriff’s Office in identifying, arresting, and prosecuting prolific property crimes and crimes against persons suspects. The program will enhance its technical capabilities, increase the number of solved criminal cases in Spokane County, and reduce the number of property and persons crimes.
Description of Strategies Used: The Rapid DNA technology will be deployed within the Forensic Unit of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The Forensic Unit is an Accredited Lab covering multiple disciplines, to which the Rapid DNA technology will be added. The lab is a controlled access environment meaning only verified lab employees or administrators have unfettered access and any visitors are logged and escorted while within. Its accreditation process requires that all personnel working with this technology will be formally trained and receive documentation that such training was completed successfully by the vendor prior to operating the equipment. The Forensic Unit has internal training staff and a Lead Forensic Specialists, which will develop a training procedure and program to familiarize field officers/deputies with the proper collection of samples and what types of evidence can be tested. The process itself will also go through a verification process to ensure it functions properly and results produced by the instrument will fall within a known parameter. Any reports or test results produced from the technology will be kept and reported out as any lab findings would be regardless of whether the results are incriminatory or exculpatory to the matter being investigated. The Forensic Unit is currently in the process of developing and implementing a Laboratory Information Management System. The system will track all evidence in the lab, tests performed on any evidence, personnel that have had custody of any evidence, and finally any reports or findings developed as a result of any examinations. The Rapid DNA evidence and reporting would be subject to these same requirements for tracking and reporting of any results or documentation. The technology at hand will assist the investigative process by accelerating the speed at which leads can be developed, innocent parties cleared, and investigations can be handled which in turn should help apprehend offenders and promote a safer community.