Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $250,000)
The Orangeburg Department of Public Safety (ODPS) Forensic Lab has experienced a severe backlog of cases being processed by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). By searching SLED’s iLAB website, which allows law enforcement agencies submitting evidence to query reports and pre-log submission data, SLED was only able perform DNA analysis on 9 cases for ODPS in 2021 and 3 cases so far in 2022. According to SLED, the average Turn Around Time (TAT) reported on their FY 2020 grant was 341 days (this is not specific to ODPS but in general) (R. Taylor, personal communication, September 24, 2020).
Since ODPS has been implementing their own DNA lab, only DNA evidence from violent cases have been submitted to SLED for analysis. SLED DNA triages their backlog by prioritizing violent crimes; and ODPS was aware that the non-violent cases would be analyzed sooner.
Since attaining accreditation, ODPS DNA Laboratory has retrieved 202 of pending DNA cases from SLED decreasing their burden and increasing case turnaround times. The current total backlog of ODPS DNA is approximately 1,150 cases. ODPS has worked 57 cases since January 21, 2021 and have 9 profiles awaiting CODIS entry once the FBI installs the CODIS software (software installation is projected for the week of July 18, 2022). The laboratory will continue to analyze cases on a regular basis.
Since the ODPS DNA Laboratory is a startup, the main and overarching goal is to increase the capacity to analyze forensic DNA samples for CODIS entry is a two-part focus. Several smaller goals are proposed using many objectives. First and foremost, instrumentation / hardware / software and validations must be purchased to implement technologies and systems designed to increase efficiency and sample processing output which in turn decreases turnaround time. Additionally, analysts must work overtime to increase the number of cases analyzed and increase CODIS entries.