Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $484,181)
Florida is the nation's third most populous state and with more than 100 million visitors in 2015, it is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. According to Uniform Crime Report statistics, the approximately 500 Florida criminal justice agencies throughout the state reported 662,372 index crimes in 2015, a decrease of 1.6% from 2014.
Despite the decrease, Florida's reported crime volume for 2015 surpassed that of all states except California and Texas. Requests for forensic services are handled by six Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) regional crime laboratories, and five county laboratories (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Indian River) that are part of Florida's crime laboratory system.
Florida's State Fire Marshal handles arson investigations, and death investigations are handled by one of 25 district medical examiners who are governed by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission (MEC). FDLE serves as staff for the MEC. FDLE sumbitted the application for funding on behalf of all agency members of Florida's crime laboratory system, State Fire Marshal and MEC. These partners have agreed to a distribution methodology that provides a base amount of funding to Florida's Medical Examiners, with the remaining funds to be distributed to the state and local crime laboratories on the basis of population served. Although better case management, streamlined processing, and increased case work capacity have helped laboratories increase output and reduce backlogs in some disciplines, and slow the growth of backlogs in others, large numbers of pending cases remain throughout the state laboratory system. Medical examiners are facing the challenge of providing timely services to meet the increasing volume of service requests within their respective districts due to outdated technology and limited resources.
Through self-assessment, the state and local laboratories and medical examiner offices have identified and prioritized their agencies' needs, and are requesting Coverdell funds for temporary personnel, equipment, training, supplies and contract services to improve the quality and timeliness of forensic and medical examiner services throughout the State. PROJECT GOALS AND OBJECTIVES: 1. Reduce analysis time for cases submitted to state and county crime laboratories; 2. Reduce backlogs in the analysis of non-biology forensic science evidence; 3. Improve timeliness of medical examiner services throughout Florida; and 4. Train forensic laboratory and medical examiner personnel to improve quality and timeliness of services and eliminate case backlogs.