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New Mexico Department of Public Safety FY 2017 Forensic DNA Backlog Reduction Project

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $223,693)

The New Mexico Department of Public Safety (NMDPS) Forensic Laboratory Bureau FLB) is seeking federal funding in the amount of $223,692.50 from the FY 2016 DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction (CEBR) Program for its NMDPS FY 2017 Forensic DNA Backlog Reduction Project that will improve the quality and timeliness of statewide forensic science services.

This funding will directly impact the NMDPS FLB's ability to provide training to forensic laboratory staff in order to meet continuing education requirements designated by the DNA Quality Assurance Standards, as well as overtime and supply costs that will directly assist in the elimination of DNA forensic case backlogs.

In January 2016, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (NMDPS) and the Office of the New Mexico State Auditor released the results of a 2015 statewide audit of crime lab backlog cases across the state. The audit revealed a considerable backlog, including over 5,400 untested rape kits that were awaiting analysis in New Mexico's crime labs and warehouses. NMDPS estimated that it will take five (5) years to process the backlog with current staffing resources and approximately $8 million is needed over a five-year period to make significant progress in diminishing the backlog. The state's forensic needs and back-log are not limited to untested rape kits, they also include a high number of DNA tests, followed by other toxicology tests, chemistry tests, latent print tests, as well as firearm and tool-mark tests. Furthermore, the audit revealed that from 2012 to 2015 the FLB experienced an overall 100% increase in all forensic cases submissions.

As the largest forensic laboratory in the state, the FLB is responsible for analyzing evidential material associated with criminal investigations for over 140 state and local law enforcement agencies and medical examiners within the State of New Mexico.

Due to increased demands for services from these agencies, the FLB has experienced the greatest increase in both forensic case submissions and backlog cases compared to other state forensic laboratories. Indeed, turnaround time baselines for DNA analysis have increased from 45 days for 75% of cases submitted in 2015, to the new baseline of 60 days for 50% of cases submitted in 2016. The proposed projects within this application significantly facilitate the FLB's ability to mitigate these challenges while increasing their ability to process, record, screen, and analyze forensic DNA and /or DNA database samples while decreasing forensic DNA case backlog.


Date Created: September 29, 2017