Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,329,196)
Requests for forensic services by Florida law enforcement agencies are handled by six Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) regional crime laboratories and five county laboratories (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Indian River) that are part of Florida’s crime laboratory system. Florida’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) Division of Investigative and Forensic Services addresses arson evidence, and death investigations are aided by 25 district medical examiners offices (MEOs) governed by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission (MEC), staffed by FDLE.
FDLE will submit the application for the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant formula funds on behalf of all agency members of Florida’s Crime Laboratory System, the DFS laboratory, and the MEC. These partners have agreed to a distribution methodology that provides a base amount of funding to Florida’s Medical Examiners, with the remaining funds to be distributed to the state and local crime laboratories on the basis of population served.
Although improved case management, streamlined processing, and enhanced casework capacity have helped laboratories increase output and reduce backlogs in some disciplines, an observed growth of backlogs is noted in others, and large numbers of pending cases remain throughout the state laboratory system. Medical examiners are face challenges of providing timely services to meet the increasing volume of requests within their respective districts, due to outdated technology and limited resources. Through self-assessment, the state and local laboratories, and medical examiner offices have identified and prioritized their agencies’ needs and are requesting Coverdell funds for personnel, equipment, training, supplies, and contracted services to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic and medical examiner services throughout the State.
PROJECT GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
1. Reduce analysis time for cases submitted to state and county crime laboratories;
2. Reduce backlogs in the forensic analysis of evidence;
3. Improve timeliness of medical examiner services throughout Florida; and
4. Provide training and support to forensic laboratory and medical examiner personnel to improve quality and timeliness of services and eliminate case backlogs.