Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $594,328)
Broward County is the 15th largest county in the United States and the second largest in the state of Florida which includes 31 municipalities and a population totaling over 1.9 million people. The Sheriff of Broward County is charged with safeguarding residents and visitors by providing public safety services that enhance the quality of life for everyone in Broward. Among the public safety services is the Broward Sheriff Office’s (BSO) Regional Crime Laboratory which is part of the Statewide Criminal Analysis Laboratory System and offers forensic biology Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) analysis on evidentiary samples to all Broward municipalities and any federal agencies that may request services.
The BSO Crime Laboratory DNA unit has 17 staff members; however, of these members, only eleven (11) Analysts are actively working on cases including an analyst funded by the City of Fort Lauderdale. The unit also includes a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) Administrator, two (2) CODIS Co-Administrators, a Technical Analyst, and a Unit Manager. While the Crime Laboratory is challenged with a limited budget and nearly 1,500 new cases assigned to the DNA Unit of the laboratory each year, the staff makes every effort to meet the demands of its customers.
The DNA Unit continuously makes improvements to the Standard Operating Procedures and other policies to maximize efficiency and enhance work quality. Management supports the efforts and repeatedly requests a sustainable operational budget for the longevity of the program. Grant funding is requested to support three (3) grant-funded analysts to enhance the laboratory’s work capacity, increase the number of case samples processed, reduce the number of backlogged cases, and improve the turnaround time. In line with those capacity-enhancing efforts, funding is being requested to expand the laboratory’s work capability beyond regular working hours for the processing of backlogged or Sexual Assault case samples as well as the peer review of the data generated from these cases including CODIS upload and entry of eligible results. This effort will enable more samples to be processed, more data to be entered into CODIS, and will ensure that time-sensitive results from Sexual Assault cases are delivered to the investigating entity.
Funding for two (2) key site personnel to attend the 2-day forensics training for award recipients is being included in this application. This training will better enable the laboratory to develop a project that will have measurable improvements to enrich the scope and delivery of services.