Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $293,954)
The North Dakota Office of Attorney General Crime Laboratory Division (NDOAG-CLD) is faced with the ongoing need for continuing education, required certification, and on-going training needs. In addition, the laboratory faces delays in turnaround times due to manual processes and increased caseload.
Years of severe budget cuts and loss of staff require the laboratory to rely heavily on the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program formula dollars. Fiscal Year 2022 funds will be utilized to continue to provide required training and continuing education for laboratory personnel. Additionally, funds will be used to renovate the NDOAG-CLD’s Evidence Vault. The Crime Laboratory Division’s (CLD’s) Evidence Vault stores evidence from all disciplines (DNA Unit, Forensic Chemistry Unit, and Toxicology Unit – Biological Section). Access is limited to authorized personnel, but all evidence is accessible once entry is gained. Renovating the current building by adding two additional Evidence Vaults will ensure the security of the evidence and reduce the potential of misconduct.
The CLD will also use funding from the FY22 Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program to install CCTV cameras in the newly renovated discipline specific Evidence Vaults. These Evidence Vaults will need to have closed circuit televisions (CCTV) system as recommended by the April 1998 Research Report (NCJ 168106) sponsored by the National Institute of Justice. This report endorsed the special security design features for a forensic laboratory including motion detection in evidence storage spaces and following Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) guidelines for storage of controlled substances. CCTV cameras will also provide additional objective evidence of compliance with ISO/IEC 17025:2017 Standards.
The anticipated outcome is to ensure the security of the evidence, reduce the potential of misconduct and to provide results and answer questions as requested or required by the legislature, law enforcement, or court proceeding, with confidence and credibility.