Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,098,056)
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Forensic Science Service (BCA FSS) is part of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, providing forensic services to over 500 local law enforcement agencies within the state as well as State and Federal agencies. The BCA FSS is also the laboratory responsible for receiving and analyzing all convicted offender samples and maintaining the DNA database. Our overall strategy for the 2022 BCA FSS DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction program will use a multi-faceted approach to increase capacity with an eye on reducing our overall backlog, even as DNA case submissions continue to increase. The plan includes an optimization of liquid handling robots that will automate a recently validated method to extract DNA from samples collected as part of sex assault investigations. The 2022 program will continue to use grant-funding to purchase a number of supplies needed to perform analysis on a portion of backlogged DNA cases. It is also our intention to utilize grant funding to support all of our specialized equipment in the form of service contracts. Our experience has shown that having immediate service on all of our specialize equipment reduces weeks of down time and having instruments off line. The program will include implementing Rapid DNA allowing for the most efficient way of profiling rush known samples when needed for verifications in casework. The program will also increase the number of hours that trained DNA scientists are available to work on backlogged cases by providing funding for overtime and to fund a full time position whose job duties include casework duties, such as screening evidence and quantitation of batches of DNA samples. The incumbents will also be responsible for reagent preparation and quality control checks on reagents and instrumentation, freeing time for scientific staff to perform casework. Finally, our program will seek to increase our capacity by providing funding for educational opportunities for scientific staff, exposing them to new, innovative technologies that will improve lab efficiencies in the future.