Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $433,742)
The West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory (WVSPFL) operates one centralized forensic DNA casework laboratory throughout the state and is the agency which is responsible for analyzing evidential material associated with criminal investigations for all state and local law enforcement agencies within the state of West Virginia. The West Virginia State Code Chapter 15, Section 2B designates the WVSPFL as the agency responsible for the upload of DNA profiles obtained from individuals convicted of certain crimes in the state to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
Due to non-dedicated equipment, laboratory space and manpower, the WVSPFL entered into a cooperative agreement with Marshall University Forensic Science Center (MUFSC) to test the offender samples for entry into CODIS. The WVSPFL has recently acquired additional space for a dedicated DNA database laboratory. The NIJ funding through this grant will allow for the purchase of laboratory equipment and manpower to reduce the turnaround time of samples submitted to the laboratory and uploaded to CODIS. As a byproduct of this reduced turnaround time, the WVSPFL anticipates a higher hit rate among forensic DNA cases, leading to an increase in investigative leads.
In 2014, the DNA section of the WVSPFL experienced a 40% reduction in staff. Although the DNA section is now fully staffed with everyone almost fully trained, the laboratory still continues to experience bottlenecks with the analysis and technical review of forensic DNA cases. The NIJ funding through this grant will enable the WVSPFL to hire an additional forensic DNA analyst to help combat this bottleneck and as a byproduct, decrease the backlog of forensic DNA cases awaiting analysis as well as increase turnaround time for the availability of DNA results.
The West Virginia State Police has limited discretionary funds to address the needs of seven disciplines within the laboratory. Therefore, the NIJ funding through this grant will enable the WVSPFL to fulfill mandated continuing education requirements for DNA analysts as well as maintain the capabilities of the laboratory by funding certain calibration and validation services. As a byproduct, the limited State Police funds can be used to address the needs of the remaining disciplines of the laboratory. nca/ncf