Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $823,553)
The Philadelphia Police Department, Office of Forensic Science (OFS) is responsible for analyzing evidentiary material, associated with criminal investigations for the City of Philadelphia. The Criminalistics Unit in the Office of Forensic Science is responsible for screening evidence for biological material and conducting DNA analysis.
The OFS is accredited by ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) under Certificate No. AT-1676 to the ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standard and the FBI DNA QAS. The scope of accreditation includes the Forensic Biology and DNA disciplines. The current accreditation is valid to October 16, 2018. The OFS is a local CODIS participating laboratory in good standing. In its last external DNA quality assurance audit in September 2016, the OFS was deemed to be in compliance with the Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories.
According to the FBI "Crime in the United States" report, the City of Philadelphia has accounted for approximately 47% of the Violent Part 1 Crimes reported in the State of Pennsylvania over the past 5 years (2011 2015). During this time period, the Philadelphia Police Department has also faced budgetary constraints that have led to a plateau of internal funding and a decrease in available federal grant funds; however, the demand for services from the Criminalistics Unit for DNA testing continues to expand. Increases in the sensitivity of DNA technology and the success of CODIS entries has resulted in the increased application of DNA analysis to any evidence that is known to have been handled/touched by an individual probative to the investigation. The DNA Laboratory routinely processes both violent and non-violent crimes, to include property crimes, based on the significant investigative value of DNA and requests from the court system.
The funds from this award will be specifically used for the following goals:
1. Reducing the forensic DNA case backlog by funding analysts to work overtime to analyze backlogged forensic biology/DNA cases.
2. Reducing the forensic biology/DNA case backlog through the outsourcing of backlogged cases to be screened for biological material suitable for DNA analysis and the development of any DNA profiles.
3. Providing training that will qualify as continuing education credit in technological advances, analytical modifications, interpretation issues, and provide necessary continuing education.
The Philadelphia Police Department, Office of Forensic Science, Criminalistics Unit can expect to reduce the backlog of forensic biology DNA cases by at least 792 cases by the end of the award period.