Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $449,888)
The Erie County Central Police Services Forensic Laboratory performs forensic DNA analysis for the Local, State and Federal law enforcement agencies of Erie County, New York (population 920,000). Additionally, we provide forensic DNA analysis for all of Niagara County and Orleans County (total population 270,000) and occasional forensic DNA analysis for law enforcement agencies from 3 neighboring counties. We currently have 9 full-time DNA analysts (includes 2 section supervisors who also perform DNA/Biology casework analyses), one part-time DNA analyst and one DNA Analyst assigned from Niagara County Crime Laboratory. Additionally, the Quality Assurance Coordinator performs DNA/Biology casework. With the success of CODIS, casework requests have been steadily increasing, especially in the area of forcible sexual assault, burglary, weapons possession, robbery and assault. Additionally, we are experiencing an increase in the number of items submitted for each case and more requests for DNA analysis on evidence associated with homicides, including cold cases. This has resulted in a significant backlog and a need to decrease the turnaround time. In order to further increase the analytical capabilities of this lab, it is necessary to perform a portion of the lab work on backlogged cases using overtime and to continue the funding for the 3 Forensic Biologist positions that were funded under the capacity portion of previous NIJ grant programs.
The Federal funding from this award will be used for the following goals: (1) Reduce the backlog of Forensic DNA/Biology cases; (2)Increase the capacity of the laboratory and reduce bottlenecks; (3) Improve the overall turnaround time for the completion of DNA cases; and, (4) Provide funding to purchase the necessary DNA Kits and supplies that will be used during analysis.
It is anticipated that the additional overtime spent on casework will result in a decrease in the turnaround time and a decrease in the number of backlogged cases, since the analysts will be able to process more cases in a shorter period of time. The long term goal is to analyze the current backlog of cases and to then provide a 30 day turn-around time for new cases. The funding from this grant ($449,888) will result in the completion of 136 additional cases using overtime and 288 DNA/Biology cases are expected to be completed by the 3 Forensic Biologists that were hired using this funding.