Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $368,632)
The Forensic Biology Unit (FBU) of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory is responsible for analyzing evidentiary material associated with criminal investigations for over 28 municipalities, the school system and local Federal agencies as needed. As the primary agency conducting DNA analysis for Palm Beach County, it is of the utmost importance that the FBU provide efficient and timely processing of all requested evidence. In 2015, the FBU underwent an NIJ grant funded Lean Six Sigma project which initially identified the average monthly demand for DNA analysis as 51 cases. Now, seven years later, the demand for DNA analysis has risen significantly to an average of 93 case requests per month (~82% increase) without a proportional increase in agency funded staffing. In addition, on July 1, 2016, FLA. STAT. § 943.326 went into effect, requiring the submission of sexual assault kit evidence to the laboratory within 30 days of receipt and the completion of testing and analysis of evidence within 120 days of laboratory submission. To address the increases in case and turnaround time demand, the FBU is proposing to utilize grant funding from the FY2022 CEBR program.
The FBU is proposing to continue the grant funding of two full-time Forensic Scientists who will begin their DNA analysis training under this program. In addition, the FBU would use funds to further expand its capabilities to mobilize its Rapid DNA program through the purchase of equipment. Funds would also be used to replace an obsolete alternate light source, contract with a trained intern, as well as support the continuing education of staff as required by the FBI Quality Assurance Standards.
The overarching goal of this proposal is to increase the FBU’s capacity to analyze forensic samples for CODIS entry as well as to reduce sample turnaround times. The citizens of Palm Beach County have been and will continue to be provided with fully validated technologies and methodologies in forensic DNA analysis in order to provide the highest quality casework and prevent DNA backlog growth. As a result of funding from this grant, the PBSO FBU expects to continue its quest to increase efficiency and reduce turnaround times.