Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $150,000)
The St. Tammany Parish Coroner's Office (STPCO) currently performs forensic DNA casework for the St. Tammany Parish area. The DNA unit at the STPCO is accredited by ASCLD-LAB and undergoes an external audit every two years in order to maintain their accreditation and CODIS eligibility.
Presently, the DNA unit at the STPCO sends all eligible profiles to the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory CODIS unit for upload into NDIS. All DNA analyses performed under this program are maintained as mandated by the federal privacy regulations. In accordance with recent State Laws referencing Sexual Assault Crimes, a sizable backlog has developed.
Although the overall backlog number of cases may not have increased, the complexity of the types of cases in the backlog has. Furthermore, the staff at the STPCO laboratory has recently increased causing there to be bottlenecking issues where there is not sufficient equipment to go around, and thus limiting the capacity of cases able to be processed in the laboratory. With the addition of needed equipment and validations, there is the potential to increase the capacity for processing DNA cases in the laboratory. The goals of the project funded by this grant are as follows:
1. Reduce the forensic DNA sample turnaround time.
2. Increase the capacity of the forensic DNA laboratory to process more DNA samples.
3. Reduce the number of forensic DNA backlogged cases.
The STPCO intends to achieve the above listed goals by purchasing equipment and conducting validations that will aid in reducing bottlenecking situations within the laboratory, as well as, increasing analyst workflow. To keep up with the demand of case submissions, STPCO has hired more personnel. Due to the increase in DNA personnel additional equipment is needed. The purchase of additional equipment will allow the STPCO to increase capacity and reduce the backlog. With a decrease in backlog, the laboratory will expect shorter sample turnaround times, and a heightened throughput. This will ultimately allow the DNA unit to better serve its agencies.