Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $2,500,000)
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) is a 29-year-old organization that was established via the merger of Charlotte City Police and the Mecklenburg County Police Department in 1993. It is the largest metropolitan police department between Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC and serves a diverse population of 930,613 citizens. The CMPD has achieved great success with its sexual assault kit (SAK) testing efforts due to five previous National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) awards (one completed and four active). However, the increased workload has created process bottlenecks that currently prevent the CMPD from efficiently processing outsourced secondary evidence and fully utilizing forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) for research and investigation. These inefficiencies are linked to the need for increased lab and investigative capacities and maintaining key pieces of the BJA SAKI model. The CMPD seeks funding from the FY 2022 SAKI Program, under Purpose Area 1, to implement the following strategies:
(1) Maintain the components of the BJA Model first established with FY 2016 SAKI funds, including hiring one-full time Site Coordinator to be the point of contact for the multidisciplinary working group (MDT) and track progress of secondary evidence testing and FGG research, and one full-time Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (Victim Advocate) to provide resources to victims of sexual assault.
(2) Outsource secondary evidence testing for SAKs linked to 100 cases that failed to yield probative results to accredited private labs.
(3) Retain a full-time DNA Criminalist Analyst to process all cases that receive Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) hits from outsourced testing.
(4) Retain two part-time detectives to review unfounded and non-criminal sexual assault cold cases for proper classification and to investigate those sexual assault cold cases receiving CODIS hits after being outsourced for testing.
(5) Fund detective overtime expenses to utilize FGG for case research and investigation.
The CMPD sees further expansion into secondary evidence testing and FGG research as the next logical step in its work to bring justice to sexual assault survivors and will maintain its victim-centered approach to making notifications and conducting case work. The MDT, which currently consists of members from the CMPD Crime Lab and Sexual Assault Unit, The District Attorney’s Office, and Safe Alliance (a nonprofit partner) will continue to meet four times per year to determine this program’s efficacy and make recommendations to improve performance as necessary, to include policy revisions and training recommendations.