Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $293,954)
The University of RI State Crime Lab - The availability of experienced Forensic Firearms & Tool Mark Examiners is extremely limited. The ability of the ATF to train examiners is limited to 12 – 14 a year. The State Crime Laboratory’s current examiners will retire within the next one to seven years. To prepare for these retirements, the Laboratory will use these funds to pay salary and benefit expenses to recruit, hire and train a candidate for a Technician I position within the Laboratory. The technician will have completed one year of an anticipated two-year training program to develop the Technician I into a Criminalist II Firearms and Tool Mark Examiner. This position will assist in keeping the significant backlog manageable in the Firearms section.
The RI Department of Health Forensic Sciences Laboratory (RIDOH-FSL) would utilize Coverdell funds to maintain and increase the scope of accreditation status by our accrediting body, pay travel and registration costs for trainings and conferences, and to implement overtime for staff in both the Forensic Toxicology and Drug Chemistry Laboratories to prevent further increases in turnaround times and case backlogs. Effectiveness of backlog reduction will be monitored through performance measures for illicit drugs, including opioids, and improvement in turnaround times that result from this award.
The RI Office of State Medical Examiners (OSME) jurisdiction encompasses all deaths that occur within the state of RI. OSME has outgrown its current space and will be moving to a new location in CY2023. Funding is being requested for equipment and supplies to improve workflow and efficiency within OSME, enhance the learning experience of Brown University medical residents that come to OSME for their forensic pathology rotation, and support a temporary employee to assist with the preparations to relocate our office. This funding will assist with achieving these goals and mitigate a backlog that would be created by using current staff to assist with moving preparations.
RI State Police Forensic Services Unit (FSU) will seek accreditation to the International Organization for Standardization ISO/IEC 17020 through the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation. FSU members will attend vital trainings and conferences and undergo necessary certification tests that support achieving accreditation. The multispectral imaging system will increase FSU services to client agencies. The accreditation process is an ongoing effort which requires careful and constant monitoring to ensure all members of the FSU receive up-to-date training and certification.