Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $250,000)
The Congressionally Selected Awards Program, authorized by the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (Pub. L. 111-8), helps improve the functioning of the criminal justice system, prevent or combat juvenile delinquency, and/or assist victims of crime (other than compensation). Funds should be used for the projects selected by Congress, in the amounts specified in the joint explanatory statement incorporated by reference into Pub. L. 111-8, and generally consistent with one or more of the following statutory purposes: improving the functioning of the criminal justice system, preventing or combating juvenile delinquency, or assisting victims of crime (other than compensation). Each of these purposes is framed using language drawn, respectively, from the former Byrne discretionary statute, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, the Victims of Crime Act, and the Violence Against Women Act. This project is authorized and funded through a line item in the FY 09 Congressional Budget and by the joint explanatory statement that is incorporated by reference into the FY09 Omnibus Appropriations Act.
West Valley City will purchase equipment for the Valley Police Alliance (VPA) Forensic Sciences Center. The VPA Forensic Sciences Center will provide services to thirteen law enforcement agencies in the Salt Lake Valley. This will prevent officers from having to do their own crime scene analysis. When officers have to do their own crime scene analysis, they may mishandle evidence due to poor training and agencies may have insufficient equipment or storage. As a result, evidence may become contaminated, misplaced, or mislabeled and prosecutions that would otherwise have been successful might fail.
Equipment purchased through this award will allow the Center to process DNA evidence. DNA evidence has previously only been processed in the area at the State Crime Lab and a private laboratory. The State Crime Lab has experienced a high workload, resulting in a delay in evidence being processed and hence a delay in suspects being brought to trial. The alternative is a private laboratory, but this comes at additional expense.
Through the VPA Forensic Sciences Center, local law enforcement agencies will be able to combine funding in order to purchase necessary equipment. Because law enforcement agencies will no longer have to purchase their own equipment, cost savings may be achieved. Officers will also be able to spend more time conducting police work now that they will not need to conduct their own crime scene analysis and processing of evidence. Lastly, agencies will be able to rely on the expertise of the crime laboratory staff and their 24-hours, 7 days-a-week service rather than each agency having to hire and train their own staff, who then may only be available during certain days.