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FY2016 DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program/Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $645,456)

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences Forensic Genetics Laboratory will use funds from the NIJ DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program to decrease the casework backlog and reduce turnaround time for violent crime cases. Harris County is the largest county in Texas and the third largest county in the nation.
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences Forensic Genetics Laboratory provides forensic DNA analysis to approximately 65 law enforcement agencies in the county, excluding the Houston Police Department. According to the 2015 United Sates Census Bureau, Harris County had an estimated population of 2.1 million people living outside the Houston city limits. In the Texas Crime Report for 2015 released by Texas Department of Public Safety, approximately 80,000 offenses were committed in Harris County comprised of 10,000 personal crimes and 70,000 property crimes. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Science Forensic Genetics Laboratory received 4,885 DNA cases in 2014 and 4,324 cases in 2015. Although the total number of submissions decreased due to the cessation of DNA analysis of touch property crimes, there was a 16% increase in the submission of violent crime cases. The overall number of cases submitted decreased due to a policy change regarding the submission of property crimes in order for the laboratory to focus on cases with violent crimes.
We will use NIJ grant funds to assist in reducing the current casework backlog and reduce case turnaround time by increasing personnel through contract staff and by purchasing supplies. Contract serologists will allow the laboratory to increase the number of cases screened for DNA processing each month. It is estimated that at least 76 cases will be processed by grant funded Serologists and at least 179 cases will be analyzed with grant funded supplies and overtime. In addition to these measures the laboratory will outsource ~300 property crime cases so that analyst can dedicate their time to processing violent crimes. Six Proflex 96 Well PCR Systems will be purchased to replace older model thermal cyclers that will no longer be supported by the manufacturer. Finally, funds from this award will be used to provide required continuing DNA education to approximately 18 DNA Analysts. Overall the NIJ grant funds will increase the overall capacity and productivity of the Harris County Forensic Genetics Laboratory which will make a significant impact on the laboratory current backlog. nca/ncf

Date Created: September 7, 2016