Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $354,682)
Colorado’s has two objectives for the 2022 Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program funds. First, to assist laboratories and medical examiners offices in their efforts to improve current operations in the quality and/or timeliness of forensic science services provided throughout the state. Second, to work toward reducing the backlog that currently exists for processing and analyzing forensic science cases. 2022 Coverdell funds will support four forensic science laboratories and one medical examiner’s office.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is committed to providing high quality services and support to law enforcement agencies throughout CO. With the support of 2022 Coverdell funds, CBI will maintain certifications of forensic scientists, maintain accreditation, and excellent work product through high quality training. Specifically, CBI requests Coverdell funds to provide quality outsourced/external discipline-specific training and conference attendance to non-DNA scientists in understaffed disciplines with high backlogs, as well as help meet accreditation requirements through proficiency testing. The project will allow CBI to improve quality, timeliness, and the number of backlogged cases in forensic laboratories that has been exacerbated by the opioid crisis.
To improve the quality and timeliness of Denver’s forensic services, the Denver Police Crime Laboratory and Denver’s Office of the Medical Examiner (OME) will both receive funds from the 2022 Coverdell program. The OME is seeking grant funds for the purchase of a BX43 Main Stand Microscope for use in interactive teaching processes, which will contribute to obtaining ISO 17020 accreditation, as well as maintaining its NAME accreditation. The Crime Lab is requesting funds for: sending Crime Lab scientists and crime scene examiners to trainings and conferences to help them learn best practices, which affects efficiency and reduction in backlog, and will help them maintain their certifications; equipment (Stereoscope, iNPUT-ACE dongle subscription, flatbed scanner, and metal detectors) to accommodate ongoing increases in the number of forensic scientists on staff while improving quality and timeliness; and a Forensic Scientist I position to expedite turnaround times to aid in the prosecution of drug crimes, especially those that are opioid related, and to reduce backlog by providing investigative and analytical processing of evidence in the chemistry unit.
The Colorado Springs Metro Crime Laboratory (MCL) provides forensic science services to the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD), the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and the El Paso County Coroner’s Office. The MCL is focused on enhancing efficiency to process the increasing number of requests it receives in a timely manner and seeks to purchase a LIDAR based 3-D Laser Scanner to remain current with technology and improve the efficiency and timeliness of forensic processing in its Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit.
The Northern Colorado Regional Forensic Lab (NCRFL) is a consortium of 5 law enforcement agencies and CBI staff that have combined staff to provide forensic services to the Northern Colorado region. NCRFL is seeking 2022 Coverdell funds to train forensic scientists in their area of expertise to continue to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic services to the people of Northern Colorado, reduce forensic backlogs, and maintain or obtain certifications, including the training of a DME analyst that will be involved in the processing of electronic evidence associated with the illegal distribution of synthetic opioids.