Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $403,171)
The Kern County District Attorney’s Office - Forensic Science Division (Kern Regional Crime Laboratory) continues to make significant strides towards advancing the DNA technologies available at the laboratory, increasing the services provided, improving casework production, and maintaining a minimal backlog with the help of funding provided by the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Programs. Annually, the unit is averaging 600 completed cases, 2700 DNA samples processed, and over 200 profiles uploaded to CODIS. The unit recently reduced the DNA backlog to zero and the average turnaround time to under 60 days. The unit has operated with reduced staffing levels since the end of 2019 but is currently filling vacant positions this fiscal year. Together, the unit strives to accomplish the following goals:
1. Work new cases as soon as possible with completion of all DNA cases within 60 days of receipt;
2. Maintain a minimal backlog; and
3. Stay on the forefront of DNA technology and advancements by acquiring new instrumentation and methodology, validating these new systems and implementing them into our current workflow.
The laboratory requests grant funds to purchase the following:
1. Consumables associated with running DNA casework samples using both the current CE-based workflow and the new NGS-based workflow.
2. Continued funding of a Forensic Technician position
3. Addition of uninterrupted power supply for all DNA instruments
4. Replacement of the current out-of-date CODIS server
5. Purchase of a test CODIS server
6. Travel expenses for mandatory annual grant training for 1 DNA unit member (Washington, D.C.)
The laboratory relies heavily on grant funds to achieve the desired goals. Without this assistance, the unit will not be able to maintain current productivity levels and may experience negative effects in casework by power loss issues and delays from the old CODIS server. The laboratory is committed to better serving our customers and the citizens of Kern County through advancements and new technologies and believe these requested items will allow us to accomplish this.