Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $1,023,690)
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Forensic Science Division (FSD) is responsible for analyzing evidential material associated with criminal investigations for the City of Los Angeles.
The LAPD FSD Serology/DNA Unit (SDU) is housed at two facilities: one located at the Hertzberg Davis Forensic Science Center (HDFSC), and the other at Piper Technical Center (PTC). The HDFSC laboratory is responsible for conducting DNA analysis on evidence, as well as conducting screening of evidence for forensic value. The PTC laboratory also conducts screening of evidence.
The City of Los Angeles has been facing budget challenges while still seeking to expand its DNA analysis capabilities. This is especially critical since LAPD has experienced a 21% increase in Part I Crimes from 2014 to 2016. LAPD proposes to implement the FY 2018-2019 DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program, which will allow the SDU to reduce, or prevent an increase in, its backlog (per the NIJ definition, any cases not completed 30 days after the laboratory receives the case request) and increase capacity to meet existing and future demand for DNA testing. This award will be used to:
1. Reduce or prevent the development of a backlog of DNA cases.
2. Maintain or increase the capacity and capabilities of the LAPD SDU casework laboratories.
3. Maintain continuing education for analysts in the SDU.
With the proposed program, the LAPD SDU expects to analyze at least 522 DNA cases in-house. Independent of this or any program, the City continues to train Criminalists in support of DNA testing. Once trained, they can perform evidence screening and/or DNA analysis that will improve efficiency and reduce turnaround time. The Criminalists who are already trained to perform DNA typing will be able to increase the number of samples that they analyze, further reducing turnaround time. Purchasing a sample auto-lysing and plate extraction instrument with funds from this award will serve to increase efficiency in future years. The lab expects to reduce the turnaround time for a forensic case by 5% and increase analyst productivity by an average of 5%.
Utilizing funds from this program will allow criminalists to receive training to meet continuing education requirements, helping the FSD laboratory meet accreditation requirements, and provide Criminalists with knowledge of the latest developments in forensic DNA analysis, which will potentially be incorporated into LAPD protocols to further improve capacity and efficiency.