Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $650,000)
The Maine State Police Crime Laboratory is the only full-service, accredited Lab in the State of Maine responsible for analyzing evidence associated with criminal investigations for all state and local law enforcement agencies free of charge. Maine law also requires the Lab to conduct DNA analysis on samples collected from all convicted felons and some misdemeanor offenders and to store and maintain the resultant profiles in the Maine DNA Data Bank.
The Lab continues to be challenged by staffing resources. In order to maintain operations and continue to meet high standards, we hope to continue full-time grant funded hours for one DNA analyst as well as one Forensic Chemist who performs the duties of a biology screener. We propose purchasing a second Maxwell DNA extraction robot to work in conjunction with our current Maxwell DNA robot that was previously purchased with program funds for casework samples. The second Maxwell robot would help process batches of database samples with far less chance of sample switches or typographical errors. The two Maxwell robotics and two recently validated Quant Studio instruments that were previously purchased with program funds will facilitate processing more samples and give the DNA analyst more time to focus on DNA profiling and interpreting the extracts so more casework samples and database samples can be analyzed and entered in the CODIS database.
The Lab seeks to purchase more DNA kits to facilitate casework and database sample analysis on the Maxwell and Quant Studio instruments, which we anticipate will provide backlog reduction and increased throughput and efficiency with our staffing challenges.
We expect to negotiate and create necessary contracts for preventative maintenance, service, upgrades, and technical support for certain federally funded grant equipment purchased from previous grant cycles, and to fund/support new grant equipment purchases, as well as the CODIS 11 virtual server upgrade required by the FBI.
In summary, we propose to use the federal funding from the FY2023 award to accomplish the following objectives:
Continue to employ one full-time DNA Analyst for casework.
Continue to employ one full-time grant-funded Forensic Chemist (biology screener).
Purchase the following essential equipment that will aid in the overall quality of services, efficiency of the Lab despite limited staff, increase throughput and reduce backlogs: one Maxwell extraction robot, one Rotor Gene quantification instrument, two Microcentrifuges, two ProFlex thermal cyclers, one temperature verification kit to calibrate the thermal cyclers, and a new replacement laboratory refrigerator to store reagents used in our genetic analyzers.
Purchase kits used to extract database samples, screen and extract casework samples, and DNA profile casework and database samples as we anticipate increased capacity and efficiency from our genetic analyzers, Maxwell extraction robotics, and Quant Studio instruments.
Negotiate contracts for preventative maintenance, service, upgrades, and technical support for our PG software, Quant Studio and Rotor Gene quantification instruments, and the Maxwell and MaxPrep robotics (the MaxPrep was funded from a previous program).