Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $494,555)
The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) is a State of Texas criminal justice agency that provides forensic DNA analysis at no cost to law enforcement agencies primarily in Tarrant and the surrounding counties of north central Texas to assist in decreasing the number of backlog forensic DNA cases.
The DNA analysis is primarily for UCR, Part 1, Crime Cases, i.e., aggravated assaults, forcible rape, murder, robbery and property crimes. During 2016 UNTCHI completed cases from 50 counties in Texas with approximately 44% of the submissions originating from agencies within Tarrant County. UNTCHI serves as an adjunct laboratory to the Texas Department of Public Safety (TXDPS) State Crime Laboratory. TXDPS and other agencies within the state routinely refer forensic cases to UNTCHI which require routine DNA testing and/or mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis and those cases that need familial and/or kinship relatedness statistical analysis.
Services include conducting serological screening of evidentiary samples for identification of biological material to be subjected to subsequent DNA testing utilizing a variety of DNA technologies including autosomal short tandem repeats (STRs), Y chromosome STRs and mitochondrial DNA analyses. UNTCHI continues to work closely with both law enforcement and prosecuting agencies to select only the most probative samples for DNA testing. This effort provides a form of education to the submitting agencies and helps improve laboratory productivity and cost effectiveness.
Funds from this award allow UNTCHI to continue assisting agencies in reducing the number of forensic DNA samples awaiting analysis, maintain or reduce the current turn-around time, and complete the DNA analysis on a minimum of 450 cases. By the end of the award period it is anticipated that each analyst will complete a minimum of 10 cases per month or approximately 20-25 samples per analyst per month, and maintain or decrease the current average turn-around time of 93 days per case. Approximately 1% of cases submitted to UNTCHI require mtDNA analysis which requires additional processing and testing time compared to traditional STR testing. All eligible forensic DNA profiles are entered into CODIS v7.0 and uploaded into NDIS where applicable.
UNTCHI is accredited by ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) under the requirements of ISO 17025 and the FBI's Quality Assurance Standards. In addition to the DNA services, UNTCHI also provides expert witness testimony.