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Delaware's FFY2023 Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Formula Grant

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $312,708)

Delaware Division of Forensic Science (DFS) is charged with forensic science services statewide. There is one state Division of Forensic Science (DFS) in Delaware with locations in Wilmington and Georgetown. This Abstract summarizes the proposed use of FY2023 Coverdell formula funds to address challenges posed by opioids and/or synthetic drugs.

DFS laboratories are reporting increased numbers of opiate cases. Accidental drug deaths investigated by the Medical Examiner Unit increased from 400 deaths in 2018 to 537 deaths in 2022, which is an increase of 34% in just 4 years. The rise of accidental drug deaths between 2020 (447 deaths) and 2022 (537 deaths) was a staggering 20%. Abuse of opiates like fentanyl continues to be a significant contributor to accidental drug deaths in Delaware. In 2022, 85% of all accidental drugs deaths in Delaware involved fentanyl. 

The DFS is seeking 2023 Paul Coverdell Grant funds to: 1) purchase a forensic imaging system which will allow a pathologist in the Georgetown office to share images in real time with the Chief Medical Examiner and allow for contemporaneous dialog and discussion; 2) obtain training for forensic chemists and toxicologists who conduct the opiate testing, as well as forensic investigators and medical examiners who investigate suspected opiate overdose deaths to enhance their knowledge and maintain competency and licensure; and 3) purchase a non-motorized trailer for response to clandestine burial sites. 

Funds requested in this application will increase efficiencies in the Medical Examiner Unit, as well as provide opportunities for staff to maintain professional memberships, certifications, and licensure standards, and gain new knowledge related to the opiate crisis facing our country. These resources will aid the Division by both providing an expanded ability to investigate opiate related deaths as well as enhancing the knowledge and competency of laboratory staff who provide services as representative of DFS. More than 55% of the requested budget are designed to address opioid and synthetic drug-related challenged faced in Delaware.

Date Created: September 25, 2023