Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $361,737)
The Orlando Police Department (OPD) seeks to improve the current operations and services provided by its Forensics Division through enhancements to the competencies and capabilities of its staff and the equipment it uses daily to process crime scenes and analyze evidence. To further its goal of advancing capabilities and technology, the Forensics Division will address improving the quality and timeliness of services through three specific objectives, including reducing or eliminating evidence backlog, training personnel on medicolegal death investigations, and addressing emerging forensic science issues. The strategies employed in achieving its objectives will include seeking forensic accreditation, updating equipment, and providing training to the Forensics Section’s staff associated with equipment usage and in alignment with accreditation standards.
Accreditation through ANAB, the ANSI National Accreditation Board, will assure the justice system and instill confidence in the public that the highest quality standards will be attained and maintained throughout an investigation. Emerging forensic science issues such as contextual bias, unreliable forensic analysis results, and insufficient validation of methods will be addressed. Outdated lab equipment that currently hinders the timeliness and quality of forensic investigations will be replaced. This equipment will specifically reduce a backlog of 700 gun violence-related cases slated for entry into the National Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). The new state-of-the-art equipment will also allow for more complex examinations of evidence, increase the efficacy of investigations, and improve outcomes, including identifications and prosecutorial success. Forensic accreditation-related training and training on the new equipment will ensure that Forensics Section personnel's competence in using state-of-the-art equipment technology and applying the most rigorous domestic and international evidence processing standards are achieved.
The requested funding will assist OPD in successfully realizing its mission and vision statements to keep Orlando safe for its residents and visitors and to strive to be a model agency with advancements in technology and investigative efforts. The forensic science improvements provided through this program will ensure that the goals and objectives outlined in OPD’s strategic and laboratory improvement plans to strengthen forensic investigative services leading to improved efficiency, quality, and timeliness, are achieved.