Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $171,177)
The West Valley City Police Department (WVCPD) in Utah is applying for Coverdell funding to move its Forensic Unit one step closer to being a full service crime laboratory. This application is to request $171,177.00 for the purpose of equipping a firearms section on the premises, as well as maintaining the educational credentials of an already fully trained firearms examiner. Historically, the Utah Bureau of Forensic Services (UBFS) has been responsible for conducting all firearms examinations for every law enforcement agency within the state. This has resulted in lengthy turn-around times and a limit in the number of cases accepted for examination. WVCPD has been combining resources with Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) to become self-sufficient laboratories. This would allow for the two largest agencies in the state of Utah to operate independently of the UBFS and help reduce the overall backlog in firearms examinations.
The WVCPD Forensic Unit and SLCPD Crime Laboratory both employ staff members who have successfully completed the National Firearms Examiner Academy. The employees have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job duties, however, they are hindered by the lack of necessary equipment needed to function effectively. The purchase of a portable laboratory to house a bullet recovery system, a forensic comparison macroscope, specific chemicals, and various measurement tools would allow for the WVCPD Forensic Unit to conduct in-house firearms examinations. This would not only increase productivity by eliminating travel time to another facility, but it would also eliminate interfering with another firearm examiner needing access to the same equipment. This would result in more time for examinations and a reduction in backlog at both agencies. Additionally, it would allow for the WVCPD to prioritize and manage the caseload containing firearms evidence, instead of waiting in a statewide queue.
In addition to purchasing the necessary equipment, the Coverdell funding would provide the firearms examiner with an opportunity to attend The Association of Firearms and Tool Mark Examiners 2017 Annual Training Seminar. This meeting provides information regarding methods, research, and other educational materials relating to the field. It also allows the examiner the opportunity to develop a network of support and mentors within the field who can assist by sharing resources and consulting on difficult cases. The travel and registrations costs to attend this training exceed the annual training budget of the WVCPD Forensic Unit and would not otherwise be possible.