Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $307,717)
Mesa Forensic Services is responsible for the examination of evidence from all types of crimes within the following Arizona communities: City of Mesa, Town of Gilbert, City of Tempe, and Town of Queen Creek.
Forensic Services is composed of nine units: Toxicology, Firearms, Biology, Controlled Substances, Crime Scene, Evidence Processing, Latent Print, Fingerprint Identification and Quality Assurance Units and is accredited by ANSI National Accreditation Board.
During 2021, Biology Unit members processed over 3200 samples and prepared over 1300 reports regarding scientific analyses.
Mesa Forensic Services Biology Unit is a NDIS participant and has external audits, at least every two years, to demonstrate compliance with the Quality Assurance Standards established by the Director of the FBI. The most recent external audits were performed June 14-22, 2021, and February 11-14, 2019.
The laboratory intends to increase capacity by hiring and training a new Forensic Scientist to complete Serology casework, purchasing laboratory equipment and supplies for use by the new Forensic Scientist, funding annual upgrade and maintenance fees for mixture interpretation software, funding the purchase of relevant journals geared toward keeping Forensic Biology staff abreast of current analytical and efficiency advancements and funding an external QAS assessment in 2023.
Funding in the amount of $307,717 from this award will be used for the following goal/objectives:
Goal 1: Increase the capacity of the Mesa Forensic Services Biology Unit.
Objective A: Hire and train a Forensic Scientist to complete serology casework.
Objective B: Ensure the laboratory has the necessary equipment and supplies to support an additional analyst.
Objective C: Ensure the lab can upgrade and receive maintenance support for existing mixture interpretation software by funding the required annual upgrade and maintenance fees for the software.
Objective D: Keep staff engaged in the processing of forensic biology casework abreast of the latest analytical and efficiency advancements in the field, by providing access to relevant journals.
Objective E: Ensure the laboratory continues meeting NDIS requirements by undergoing an external QAS assessment in 2023.
The number of untested/not completed forensic biology/DNA cases on hand on December 31, 2021, was 313. Once the new analyst is fully trained, it is expected to reduce this by approximately 15% to 266.
The 2021 overall average turnaround time for DNA reports is 80 days, with violent crime being 61 days and nonviolent crime being 129 days. The laboratory expects to reduce this average turnaround time by approximately 15% to approximately 68 days.