Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $418,203)
FY2022 DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program
The Maine State Police Crime Laboratory (hereinafter Lab) is the only full-service, accredited Lab in the State of Maine responsible for analyzing evidence associated with criminal investigations for all state and local law enforcement agencies. Maine law requires the Lab to conduct DNA analysis on samples collected from all convicted felons and some misdemeanor offenders and to store and maintain the resultant profiles in the Maine DNA Data Bank.
Ongoing budgetary challenges constrain our ability to hire additional state-funded staff. The Lab has successfully reduced casework backlogs with program funding. We hope to continue full-time grant funded hours for one DNA analyst (funded 100% by FY2021), as a way to keep up with increasing casework and to combat backlogs.
We hired a Forensic Chemist who performs the duties of a biology screener under FY2014 program funds and propose continuing this position to process, record, and screen items for biological evidence and DNA testing.
We also propose to purchase a MaxPrep (liquid handler) to work in conjunction with our recently purchased DNA Maxwell robotics. This instrument will greatly facilitate processing samples and reduce issues of contamination with open tubes.
We expect to negotiate and create necessary contracts for maintenance, upgrades and technical support for program funded equipment.
As we complete the validation process for the Probabilistic Genotyping software (hereinafter PG Software) purchased with previous program funds, we needed to purchase additional DNA kits. In years past, we purchased genetic analyzers and PG software with program funds, which significantly increased our production throughput. However, for FY2022, we look to reduce the amount of grant funded kits and use state funds to make up the difference in order to purchase a Maxwell Prep (liquid handler) for DNA, which we anticipate will provide backlog reduction and more throughout and efficiency with staffing challenges looming.
Our proposal is to use the federal funding from the FY2022 award to accomplish the following objectives:
Continue to employ one full-time DNA Analyst for casework
Continue to employ one full-time grant-funded Forensic Chemist (biology screener)
Purchase DNA kits as we anticipate increased capacity and efficiency of our genetic analyzers
Negotiate contracts for maintenance, upgrades, and technical support of our PG software and quantification instruments
Purchase a MaxPrep (liquid handler) to aid in overall efficiency with limited staff, throughput and backlog reduction.