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State of Rhode Island Forensic Science Improvement & Accreditation

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $271,960)

The State Crime Laboratory at the University of Rhode Island is undergoing laboratory renovations as they prepare additional space provided them at the University's Fogarty Hall. Their 2017 Coverdell allocation was proposed solely to purchase bench casework for their new laboratory space. The State Crime Laboratory will use their portion of the FY2018 Coverdell grant to purchase an additional 41.5 linear feet of bench casework.

The Laboratory also plans to purchase eight (8) 48” self-contained portable fume hoods with air controllers and filters at a cost of $5,000 each or $40,000. These fume hoods will replace those that were removed in the renovation and will provide safe work environments for the processing of evidence analyzed in all sections of the laboratory, where chemicals are used. They will also address the concerns of the potential processing of evidence that may be contaminated with opioids, drugs or other chemicals.
The Department of Health Forensic Sciences Unit will utilize their portion of the 2018 Paul Coverdell funds to maintain accreditation status through an audit by our accrediting body, ANAB/ANSI. During this grant cycle, they will undergo an on-site partial scope surveillance audit. The cost for the audit will include annual fees. The DOH Laboratory proposes to pay travel and registration costs to send staff to various trainings and conferences. The Laboratory proposes to monitor the effectiveness of backlog reduction efforts through performance measures, which will include the number of backlogged drug cases awaiting analysis, turnaround times for illicit drugs, including opioids, and improvement in turnaround times as a direct result of this award.

The Office of State Medical Examiners (OSME) will use these funds to continue to strengthen its infrastructure by upgrading the on-site digital x-ray equipment which is used daily. The existing equipment was purchased almost a decade ago, has been in disrepair and is in need of replacement. The new equipment will assist the Office in conducting thorough forensic pathology examinations and to sustain compliance with case closure parameters set by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME), its national accrediting agency.

The Rhode Island State Police Forensic Services Unit (FSU) will again apply for reaccreditation to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/IEC 17020 through the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board.

Members of the Forensic Services Unit will attend vital trainings and conferences, as well as undergo necessary certification tests that directly support the goal of achieving accreditation. Three of the proposed trainings will be opioid related and will include lecture(s) regarding enhanced protective measures when opioids are encountered at crime scenes and / or requests are made to process drug packaging for latent prints. These funds will also enable the Forensic Services Unit to obtain much needed supplies in order to ensure all unit members have the necessary resources to carry out their mission.

The Public Safety Grant Administration Office will retain $27,000 in administrative funds to contribute to the salary and fringe benefits of the Coverdell grant administrator who is responsible for all aspects of administering the 2018 Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program.

Date Created: September 21, 2018