Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $650,000)
The Scientific Investigation Section (SIS) of the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) is responsible for analyzing evidence associated with criminal investigations for the City and County of Honolulu. The HPD maintains the only forensic deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) laboratory in the state of Hawaii. Due to its unique function in the Pacific Basin, the laboratory processes cases for local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. It is also responsible, by statute, for the state’s convicted offender databasing program and ensuring the timely testing of all police-reported sexual assault kits. The HPD does not receive state funding to maintain the offender database. Casework testing is offered free of charge because many law enforcement agencies do not have the means to pay for services. Through CEBR grant funding, the HPD has been able to continue offering free DNA testing services to agencies in need.
Demand for DNA services has surged in recent years due to mandated sexual assault kit testing legislation and increased interest in property crime testing. Since the HPD budget is not sufficient to cover the costs of statewide DNA testing, prior CEBR awards have been used to build and maintain the capacity of the SIS. Continued funding is needed; not just to meet demand, but also to address backlogged cases.
Funding from this award will be used to fund DNA analyst positions, purchase reagents, and provide continuing education to staff. These activities will allow the HPD to continue offering free DNA services to regional law enforcement agencies and to maintain the state’s convicted offender database. By the completion of the project period, the SIS expects to complete the analysis of 250 sexual assault kits, 180 property crimes, and 1,000 convicted offender samples using funding from this award.