Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $1,133,972)
The Recovery Act Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant Program (Byrne Competitive Program) will help communities improve the capacity of state and local justice systems and provide for national support efforts including training and technical assistance programs strategically targeted to address local needs. This competitive grant announcement focuses on initiatives in eight areas: 1) preventing and reducing violent crime through community-based data-driven approaches; 2) providing funding for neighborhood-based probation and parole officers; 3) reducing mortgage fraud and crime related to vacant properties; 4) hiring of civilian support personnel in law enforcement (training staff, analysts, dispatchers, etc.); 5) enhancing forensic and crime scene investigations; 6) improving resources and services for victims of crime; 7) supporting problem-solving courts; and 8) national training and technical assistance partnerships.
Under category 5, Hennepin County will use the grant award to hire seven forensic scientists and supporting staff within the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Crime Laboratory Unit (HCSO-CLU) and establish the Hennepin County DNA Property Crime Initiative. This initiative will significantly expand the use of DNA testing in property crime investigations throughout the county and reduce the backlog of DNA property crime cases currently awaiting analysis. A 40 percent increase in property crime case submissions is anticipated as well as a 50 percent reduction in case turnaround time. This program targets a growing property crime trend in Hennepin County, particularly in suburban areas. With the additional laboratory personnel, the HCSO-CLU will significantly decrease the backlog for DNA testing on property crime evidence and have capacity to meet future DNA testing demands. HCSO-CLU and the sheriff will also promote greater use of DNA testing for property crimes by meeting with local police chiefs and 36 law enforcement agencies across the county to increase overall submissions.
Coordination plans target more than property crime: over the past 12 months the sheriff's office has developed a work group (CODIS Team) and software (GENEius) that provide for coordination among HCSO-CLU, the detectives unit, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the County Attorney's Office, and other agencies. This coordination provides more timely notification on cases handled and case tracking outcomes, from initial CODIS matches to final court disposition. Additionally, HCSO-CLU, the detectives unit, and county attorneys are currently partnering on solving cold cases through the increased use of DNA testing, and the HCSO-CLU's strong history of coordination will continue with this grant award. The key deliverables under this project will include a reduction of time to process DNA property cases by 50 percent, an increase in the number of cases submitted by 40 percent, an increase in profiles uploaded to CODIS, and an increase in the number of CODIS hits.