Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $293,954)
Delaware Division of Forensic Science (DFS) is charged with forensic science services statewide. There is one state Division of Forensic Science (DFS) in Delaware with locations in Wilmington and Georgetown. This Abstract summarizes the proposed use of FFY2022 Coverdell formula funds to address challenges posed by opioids and/or synthetic drugs.
DFS laboratories are reporting increased numbers of opiate cases. Over 35% of all postmortem cases processed by the Toxicology Unit tested positive for Fentanyl in 2021, including 83% of accidental drug overdose deaths. Since 2016, the Toxicology Unit has reported a 269% increase in the number of positive postmortem Fentanyl cases. The Toxicology Unit has also reported an increase in the potent fentalogue para-fluorofentanyl, which was found in 11.9% of postmortem casework. The Forensic Chemistry Unit has also reported an increase in the number of Fentanyl and fentalogue samples tested. In 2021, the Forensic Chemistry Unit reported that 34% of all samples tested contained Fentanyl and 19% of all samples tested contained Heroin, another potent opiate. The Forensic Chemistry Unit also reported an increase in the number of fentalogue samples analyzed, rising from 920 in 2020 to 4,838 in 2021, which is a 426% increase over one year.
The DFS is seeking 2022 Paul Coverdell Grant funds to: 1) renovate existing storage space within the DFS laboratory space to accommodate additional instrumentation in the Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology Units; 2) obtain training for forensic chemists and toxicologists who conduct the opiate testing, as well as forensic investigators and medical examiners who investigate suspected opiate overdose deaths to enhance their knowledge and maintain competency and licensure; 3) purchase a Raman Spectrometer to detect and identify suspected controlled substances, including opiates within the Forensic Chemistry Unit.