Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $293,954)
Project purpose - The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) continues to experience budgetary challenges and growing backlogs with approximately 8,500 cases received annually. DESPP will use federal funds to meet these challenges that limit the improvement of forensic services, opioid-related continuing education of analysts, updating necessary software, and monitoring of opioid and non-opioid related storage areas. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) will continue to provide professional development for medical examiners - those physicians who investigate sudden, violent, and suspicious deaths to meet national accreditation standards in forensic pathology. The opioid crisis has affected the OCME with nearly triple the drug intoxication deaths over the past 5+ years.
Primary activities - DESPP will use funds for professional development, supplies, software renewals to analyze evidence, training, and reimbursement of annual dues/certifications of staff. OCME will use funds for continued staff professional development and to support the increased demands on the agency due to the opioid crisis: increased, timely, and expanded toxicology testing, and opioid-related transportation costs.
Expected outcomes - DESPP will quicken dissemination of information to investigating agencies, continue compliance with ANAB standards in professional development, upgrade and renew technology/equipment, monitor storage of evidence 24 hours a day, and continue competency in the forensic sciences. OCME will maintain national accreditation and support professional development of staff including meeting national turnaround-times for toxicology and autopsy reports. The funding for laboratory testing will allow us to expand the panel for drugs that are detected and improve the turnaround time of testing. This will improve the quality of death certificates, provide stakeholders (police, families, public health investigators) with more timely, higher quality, and broader detection of opioids and new designer drugs.
Service area - Federal funds will support the Division of Scientific Services to improve the quality of the forensic services provided in the state of Connecticut. The Office of the Chief Medical examiner serves all eight counties in Connecticut.
Intended beneficiaries - DESPP will use funds to provide quality forensic services and crime scene assistance to the Division of State Police, local police departments, state's attorneys, public defenders, and other authorized agencies. For the OCME, the beneficiaries are all residents of the State of Connecticut and the related collaborative partners of the Funeral Directors Association and other Federal and State Agencies that are associated with death investigation.
Subrecipients - DESPP, the lead applicant, will use the OCME as a subgrantee under this grant.