Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $2,800,000)
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) supports state and local jurisdictions with meeting the challenges associated with the provision of forensic services through several forensic science grant programs. Agencies rely on these programs to meet criminal justice objectives such as improving case outcomes, strengthening public safety, and rebuilding trust with the communities they serve. To improve the efficiency and strategic use of these programs, BJA created the Forensics Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Program. RTI International is a trusted TTA partner to BJA and will build on the knowledge gained from leading the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative TTA program to assist the Forensic Program grantees with implementing sustainable policies aligned with national recommendations and best practices. RTI’s demonstrated TTA model combines evidence-based solutions and practitioner-based strategies resulting in TTA resources that are practitioner centric and easily implemented. These resources will support grantees with creating sustainable approaches for the provision of forensic services. As a respected partner to the criminal justice, medical examiner and coroner, and crime laboratory communities, RTI understands that grantees must address multiple capacity enhancement demands and therefore, creating cohesive strategies to support forensic testing of casework, laboratory capacity enhancement, and implementation of emerging technologies is often met with challenges at the discipline, agency, and inter-agency level.
To address these challenges, RTI’s TTA model includes the following principles: creating a sustainable Multidisciplinary Team, understanding case connectivity, providing training for advanced DNA testing including Forensic Genetic Genealogy and developing sustainable policies and best practices. To ensure relevant and timely TTA resources, the model leverages collaboration between an Advisory Board, composed of nationally recognized forensic organizations; TTAcoaches composed of RTI staff who are former scientists and practitioners; and a cadre of respected, statured, subject matter experts. This consortium of experts will assist grantees with approaches that effectively use funding, reduce redundancies, and optimize forensic services. To inform strategic planning for program success, the RTI TTA Team will collect and evaluate performance metric data. Comprehensive performance metric collection informs stakeholders, demonstrates impact, and provides justification for continued program support as well as transparency to BJA program dollars invested. In summary, RTI will assist BJA with accurately assessing both the new Forensics TTA Program and the existing Forensic Programs, thereby strengthening and improving the quality and practice of forensic science.