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Paul Coverdell Base Formula Projects to Eliminate Forensic Backlog and Provide Forensic Training for New Mexico

Award Information

Award #
Awardee County
Santa Fe
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $71,530)

The New Mexico Department of Public Safety (NMDPS) is seeking federal funding from the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program to facilitate the improve the quality and timeliness of statewide forensic science and medical examiner/coroner's officer services. This funding will directly impact the participating New Mexico forensic laboratories' ability to provide training to forensic laboratory staff and to work toward the elimination of forensic case backlogs.

In January 2016, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (NMDPS) and the Office of the New Mexico State Auditor released the results of a 2015 statewide audit of crime lab backlog cases across the state. The audit revealed a considerable backlog, including over 5,400 untested rape kits that were awaiting analysis in New Mexico's crime labs and warehouses. NMDPS estimated that it will take five (5) years to process the backlog with current staffing resources and approximately $8 million is needed over a five-year period to make significant progress in diminishing the backlog. The state's forensic needs and back-log are not limited to untested rape kits, they also include other toxicology tests, chemistry tests, DNA tests, latent print tests, as well as firearm and tool mark tests.

Furthermore, labs across the state saw a 100% increase in forensic cases from 2012 to 2015, resulting in a 70% increase in backlog cases during the same period. In order to address the growing backlog of forensic cases, NM DPS has partnered with the four (4) primary forensic laboratories within the state in order to address the problem and submit this Paul Coverdell Forensic Improvement Grant Program formulary application.

The four (4) partners are the NMDSP Forensic Laboratories Bureau (FLB), the Albuquerque Police Metropolitan Forensic Science Center Evidence Unit (APD Crime Lab), the New Mexico Department of Health Scientific Laboratory Division (SLD), and the University of New Mexico's Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI). Working together, the partners have identified joint priorities within the 2016 Statewide Forensic Strategic Plan for forensic laboratory enhancements. The goals and objectives of the partners in this formulary grant proposal reflect the findings and recommendations of the 2016 Statewide Forensic Services Plan. These activities will contribute to New Mexico's goal of improving the quality and/or timeliness of forensic science or medical examiner services over current operations.


Date Created: August 21, 2016