Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $294,454)
The Center for Forensic Sciences - Forensic Laboratories, a bureau organizationally located within the Onondaga County Health Department, include the disciplines of Latent Prints, Forensic Biology/DNA, Controlled Substances, Fire Debris, Firearms, and Digital Evidence. The geographic region served by the laboratory is primarily Onondaga County, with a population of approximately 460,000 and 18 local law enforcement agencies. The laboratories provide scientific analysis of submitted evidence in support of criminal investigations. The laboratories are accredited by ANAB (ANSI National Accreditation Board; ANSI = American National Standards Institute) and the New York State Commission on Forensic Science.
The Forensic Biology/DNA Section consists of six staff members, five of which are funded by local dollars. The section will utilize funds from this grant to continue to fund the position of the DNA Validation Specialist (title) within the Forensic Biology/DNA Section, whose functions will transition to approximately 50% case working. This will increase the capacity of the section from five full-time staff to 5.5, which will increase the overall section’s samples/assignments/cases completed to reduce the backlog.
The Forensic Biology/DNA Section will use this award to fund overtime hours to increase throughput by increasing total bench hours, purchase replacements for old/malfunctioning equipment, and purchase additional instruments to increase the sample processing capacity. Funds will also be used to purchase mandated proficiency tests, an external FBI QAS audit, and to send DNA analysts to national conferences/symposia, all to meet accreditation and quality assurance requirements.
In addition, validation services and associated supplies for a Y-STR typing amplification kit will be purchased with this award to increase the section’s capacity to produce Y-STR profiles with a higher power of discrimination.
It is expected that with the increase in personnel and equipment-related capacity that at least 170 more assignments could be completed with funding from this award.
In summary, the funding from this grant will enable the Forensic Biology/DNA Section to increase case throughput (capacity) and improve the quality of analysis, while reducing case backlog and case turnaround time.