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City of Mesa Forensic Services BJA FY 23 DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction Program Grant Application

Award Information

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $291,873)

Mesa Forensic Services is responsible for the examination of evidence from all types of crimes within the following Arizona communities: Mesa, Gilbert, Tempe, and Queen Creek.

Forensic Services is composed of nine units: Toxicology, Firearms, Biology, Controlled Substances, Crime Scene, Evidence Processing, Latent Print, Fingerprint Identification and Quality Assurance Units and is an ANSI National Accreditation Board Accredited Forensic Laboratory.

During 2022, Biology Unit members processed over 4300 samples and prepared over 1600 reports regarding scientific analyses.

Mesa Forensic Services Biology Unit is a NDIS participant and has external audits, at least every two years, to demonstrate compliance with the Quality Assurance Standards established by the Director of the FBI. The most recent external audits were performed February 27- March 2, 2023, and June 14-22, 2021.

The laboratory intends to increase capacity by purchasing an extraction instrument, funding service and preventative maintenance contracts for Biology Unit instruments, annual upgrade, and maintenance fees for mixture interpretation software, and an external QAS assessment.

Funding from this award will be used by Mesa Forensic Services for the following goal/objectives:

All Objectives under Goals 1 and 2 serve to conduct, for inclusion in CODIS, DNA analysis of samples from crime scenes.

Goal 1:  Increase the capacity of the Mesa Forensic Services Biology Unit.

Objective A:  Ensure and improve DNA extraction capabilities by replacing an aging extraction system that has out of date operating system software.

Objective B:  Limit instrument down-time by establishing new contracts for preventative maintenance and service on Biology Unit instruments/equipment.

Objective C:  Ensure that we can upgrade and receive maintenance support for existing mixture interpretation software by funding the annual upgrade and maintenance fees for this software.

Objective D:  Ensure the laboratory continues meeting NDIS requirements by undergoing an external QAS assessment in 2025.

Goal 2:  Reduce the backlog of forensic biology/DNA cases.

Objective A:  Fund overtime and fringe benefits for eight forensic scientists and one supervisor to work a minimum of fifty cases.

The number of untested/not completed forensic biology/DNA cases on hand on December 31, 2022, was 234. We expect to reduce this by 15% to 199.

The 2022 overall average turnaround time for DNA reports is 57 days, with violent crime being 53 days and nonviolent crime being 67 days.

The laboratory expects to reduce this average turnaround time by approximately 12% to approximately 50 days.

Date Created: September 8, 2023