Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $293,954)
The Maine Department of Public Safety is submitting this application on behalf of the three State of Maine forensic science laboratories. They are the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory (MSPCL), Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), and the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL). All the labs experience issues with staff training, equipment, and backlogs.
The MSPCL intends to use the FY 2022 Coverdell Funds for continued staff training by funding attendance at professional conferences and by purchasing supplies/equipment to maximize efficiency and documentation for the Evidence Response Team. MSPCL would continue to support the professional development of the staff with the latest industry trainings and professional conferences in their field of expertise.
This funding will also allow MSPCL to purchase new supplies or equipment, and software to maximize the efficiency and documentation in our forensic units and with our Evidence Response Team.
The OCME plans to use the FY 2022 Coverdell Funds to continue the funding of contracted board-certified forensic pathologists which would enable them to investigate a higher percentage of deaths in Maine, without increasing fatigue or burn-out of the full-time staff. The contracted staff are primarily used to cover weekends. The Coverdell Grant Program has created opportunities for interested Medical Examiners and Investigators to participate in the annual New England Seminar in Forensic Sciences. Maine OCME also sends one of the full-time forensic pathologists to the National Association of Medical Examiners Annual Conference and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Conference.
The HETL intends to use the FY 2022 Coverdell Funds to pay for professional membership dues and subscriptions which are not paid for by the state, which include the Society of Forensic Toxicology (SOFT), American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT), International Association of Chemists (IAC), Journal of Forensic Science (JFS), and the Associations of Forensic Quality Assurance Managers (AFQAM). HETL also plans to pay for proficiency tests, required for accreditation, to ensure ongoing competency of analysts. HETL plans to send six analysts to in person conference during the program period and allow for all staff to also attend virtual conferences, as available.
HETL also needs to increase testing abilities by purchasing a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) instrument. This instrument will allow for better testing of heat sensitive compounds and will expand the current analysis scheme that is available.