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2018 Coverdell Forensic Science Formula Grant

Award Information

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

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

Over the past several years there has been a proliferation in the illegal use of opioid drug compounds. Many of these compounds contain fentanyl and/or fentanyl analogues, which is particularly troublesome due to their very high potency and toxicity. Current instrumentation in the drug identification section of the DCI Lab lacks the sensitivity to differentiate many fentanyl analog from one another. In addition, methods development and validations need to be performed in our toxicology and drug identification sections to address the new opioid compounds which are constantly changing. Due to reductions in staffing, increased lab capabilities, and increases in case submissions over the past several years, backlog of cases waiting to be worked has increased. The increased backlog has resulted in increases to the average turnaround times on cases closed. This processing delay is detrimental to our stakeholder agencies with respect to investigation and prosecution. The lack of real time data related to opioid and other drug overdose and overdose deaths limit the health and safety community's response to drug problems in the community. The goal of the project is to equip the crime lab with instrumentation to identify and measure trace amounts of highly potent opioid/analogs; decrease casework backlogs and average turnaround times on processed evidence to meet 45 day speedy trial court requirements; and, bolster a data driven response to opioid use in the community by improving the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of death investigations.

Grant funds will be utilized by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Investigations, Criminalistics Laboratory to provide overtime for criminalists to clear cases and reduce case turnaround time. Funding will also be used to purchase instrumentation to be used to differentiate fentanyl and related analogs. Criminalist overtime to reduce backlogs and shorten TATs.

Major Deliverables (Objectives):
Overtime support for criminalists to reduce case turnaround time.
Instrumentation for the Crime Lab.
Implementation of death data collection and reporting system for the Medical Examiner.
Medical Examiner staff development.


Date Created: September 21, 2018