U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Project

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $77,772)

The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory (ASCL) is a full service forensic laboratory serving the entire state of Arkansas. This includes 75 counties with a population of approximately 3 million individuals.
The ASCL is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors - Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) International Program. Initial accreditation was achieved in 2004 in the Legacy Program and was renewed in 2009. The Medical Examiner's Office received National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) accreditation in 2010 and is renewing its accreditation this year.
The ASCL employs eighty-five (85) analysts in the disciplines of CODIS, Forensic DNA, Drug Analysis, Forensic Toxicology, Physical Evidence (Trace and Serology Units), Firearms/Toolmarks, Latent Prints and Digital Evidence. In addition, the ASCL has a Medical Examiner's Office that employs six (6) Medical Examiners, six (6) Field Investigators and six (6) Morgue Technicians.
The overall turn-around time (TAT) goal for each section of the ASCL is 30 days from receipt of the evidence to the report sent to the customer. The ASCL has made drastic improvement by implementing Lean Six Sigma practices and other streamlined methodologies learned through training. Continuous improvement is the key to refining quality and timeliness of case processing.
The Trace Section performs hair, fiber, paint, glass, tape, fracture match and ignitable liquid analysis. The Physical Evidence - Trace Section received 416 cases in 2015, a 5% increase from 2014. To perform the necessary analysis for hairs, fibers, paint, glass and tape, microscopic comparison must be performed.
The current Comparison Polarized Light Microscope (PLM) utilized for these analyzes was purchased in 1991 and is outdated.
Goals of the program: To improve the quality and timeliness of forensic services.
Objectives to support the goals:
1. To purchase and install a Comparison Polarized Light Microscope (PLM) in the Physical Evidence - Trace Section.
Project Strategy: To process hair, fiber, paint, glass and tape analysis with an improved microscope system that will digitally document the PLM examinations and expand capabilities of the analysis of fibers and paint. The Comparison Polarized Light Microscope (PLM) will be purchased, installed and performance checked. The Comparison Polarized Light Microscope (PLM) will then be utilized in processing Trace cases.
Anticipated Outcomes: Expanded testing capabilities and improved documentation of Trace examinations. nca/ncf

Date Created: August 25, 2016