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Improving the Quality and Timeliness of Forensic Science in Massachusetts

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $162,285)

The Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory (MSPCL) is a state government laboratory dedicated to providing excellence in service through quality forensic science.

The Boston Police Department Forensic Division (BPD) and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) together with the MSPCL propose the following initiatives to reduce forensic case backlogs, to decrease turnaround time and to provide timelier forensic services.

The MSPCL, BPD, and OCME plan to utilize the funds from this program to purchase equipment and instruments to reduce the backlog of unprocessed cases as well as fund personnel travel and training to assist with improving the quality and timeliness of forensic science and medical examiner office services. The MSPCL intends to utilize the funds to purchase a new Leeds Comparison Microscope for the Firearms Identification Section (FIS) and to purchase a Sputter Coater for use with the Scanning Electron Microscope-Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) instruments in the Trace/Arson and Explosive’s (TRAE) Unit. By purchasing these two new pieces of equipment the FIS and TRAE Units expect to increase the efficiency of sample processing and thus reduce the backlog of untested cases.

The BPD plans to fund travel and training costs that would allow for nineteen individuals from their Forensic Group to attend regional and national forensic conferences, workshops, and seminars. By attending these trainings the members of the Forensic Group (which includes the Latent Print Unit, the Firearms Analysis Unit, and the Crime Laboratory Unit) would be able to keep up to date on current methods and technologies in their related fields, as well as receive critical continuing education opportunities directly related to the disciplines in which they work.

The OCME will purchase BioChipSet cassettes that can be used with the ANDE Rapid DNA system for expedited identification of descendants. Previously the OCME had outsourced their DNA Identification cases to other external laboratories when other means of identification, such as visual, dental, X-Ray, or fingerprint comparison were not possible, the processing typically took several months and delayed the release of the descendents from the OCME for burial. By purchasing the BioChipSet cassettes identification can be processed at the OCME in less than 90 minutes expediting body identification and allowing for more timely release for families.

The anticipated outcome of these collective initiatives is to decrease the case backlog and turnaround time of forensic examinations at the respective laboratories state-wide while increasing capacity at each agency.


Date Created: September 29, 2017