Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $396,006)
The Cuyahoga County, Ohio Regional Forensic Science Laboratory (CCRFSL) is the primary accredited DNA Analysis Laboratory for Cuyahoga County and the region, serving the 2nd largest population in Ohio and maintains FBI Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories for inclusion in the Combined DNA Index System/National DNA Index System. In 2014, the Lab completed a $2.5 Million expansion and thereafter began offering free testing to all area jurisdictions. As a result, the Lab has continued to experience significant increases in DNA casework while it continues to implement more stringent case acceptance policies and procedures in efforts to increase capacity and throughput. It is not clear how cases will fluctuate during 2023 and the 2023-2025 project period, however, an increase in casework is expected based on the staggering increases in violent crimes within the County. Cuyahoga County is home to Cleveland, its largest city, which is plagued as 1st in the state and 4th most violent in the Nation with 8,652 violent crimes and now being further fueled as the poorest city in the nation according to the most recent 2020 U.S. Census and FBI-UCR available data.
With limited funds and the increased cost of casework, acquiring the award is critical to building DNA capacity and reducing the backlog to benefit law enforcement’s prosecution of crime and increase the safety for the citizens it serves. The majority of funding has been allocated to forensic casework consumable supplies and is required to meet Goals 1 and 2. Goal 3 will be achieved through the allocation of 2.96% of the total budget for staff attendance at two training events to maintain continuing education and accreditation requirements. Given these increases in cost and casework; CCRFSL is optimistic to increase capacity and throughput while reducing backlog as a result of this funding.