Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $167,339)
The Minneapolis Police Department Crime Lab Unit (MPD-CLU) will use grant funds to purchase and implement the use of forensic light sources for more efficient, thorough searches; state-of-the-art scanners for optimal evidence documentation; an electrostatic detection apparatus to document evidence in a non-destructive format; a sophisticated computer system for comparison and retention of footwear impressions; and supplies necessary to support these tools.
The MPD-CLU places significant value on impression evidence in all cases, but without unique lighting tools, footwear evidence along with evidence examinations of questioned documents, bloodstain patterns, firearms, and other disciplines critical to serious crime investigations can go undetected. Furthermore, when impressions are obtained from crime scenes, much of the tedious work is yet to be done. Preparing said evidence for examination requires a considerable amount of laboratory time to ensure that the minute details required for a proper forensic examination are recorded. Unfortunately, without appropriate analytical tools, good evidence can become buried in backlogs resulting in cold cases that may never be revived.
Latent print impression evidence is a staple in criminal investigations, however, while footwear evidence has been shown to have tremendous value when presenting cases for prosecution, the MPD-CLUs ability to streamline investigations by linking crimes through footwear impressions is largely untapped. Recently, critics and advocates of the forensic sciences have called for the creation of large data sets to establish meaningful statistical significance to present the most complete picture of the evidence examined. The superior visualization tools and nearly automated high throughput image capture equipment with computer software for image storage and comparison will produce more scientifically sound and timely examinations for the release of actionable intelligence.
A working group evaluated commercially available forensic light sources, documentation tools, and related software assessed their performance characteristics to make a recommendation on what would best meet the needs of the MPD-CLU. These recommendations for equipment upgrades are requested in this application under the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program.
Upon delivery, personnel will be trained by vendors and the equipment will quickly become part of the general procedures for the MPD-CLU. Consequently, the highest quality evidence will be collected and quickly examined in an effort to better serve the City of Minneapolis and its customers.