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State of Rhode Island Forensic Science Improvement and Accreditation

Award Information

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

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

Rhode Island (RI) State Crime Lab availability of experienced Forensic Firearm Examiners is extremely limited. Currently the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) trains 12 examiners a year. We expect two examiners to retire within the next 1 to 6 years and must prepare for replacements. Funds will continue paying salary and benefits for a technician position, hired under the FY2022 Coverdell grant, who is being trained as a Firearms and Tool Mark Examiner. The Laboratory will use other financial resources for training, including travel, housing, and material expenses. 

RI Department of Health Center for Forensic Sciences Laboratory will utilize Coverdell funds to maintain and increase the scope of accreditation status by our accrediting body. Funds will pay travel and registration costs for trainings and conferences to keep abreast of new methods and drugs. Funds are also requested to purchase a Captair Smart Ductless fume hood for the Forensic Drug Chemistry laboratory to improve safety for the analysts working on illicit drugs. A desktop computer will be purchased to replace an aging computer used in the laboratory for data analysis and evidence receiving.

RI Office of State Medical Examiners (OSME) - RI Office of State Medical Examiners jurisdiction encompasses all deaths that occur within the state of RI and the burden of investigating a continued high rate of opioid related deaths is a continuing challenge to the office A quality assurance needs assessment has identified several key areas that require improvements in order to further improve both workflow efficiencies in several areas:  histology cassette preparation, autopsy room operations, decedent transport within the facility, and with front office clerical support. Funding is being requested to address these critical areas and would provide the means necessary to assist our office with attaining these goals. 

RI State Police Forensic Services Unit (FSU) - The Rhode Island State Police Forensic Services Unit (FSU) will seek to maintain accreditation to the International Organization for Standardization ISO/IEC 17020 through the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) The activities outlined support this effort, as the activities allow members of the FSU to attend vital trainings and conferences, as well as undergo necessary certification tests that directly support the goal of maintaining accreditation. Purchasing updated laboratory equipment will ensure the FSU is able to provide quality services to client agencies. The accreditation process is an ongoing effort which requires careful and constant monitoring.

Date Created: September 25, 2023