Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $250,000)
The Toxicology Laboratory has a backlog of over 2,650 cases with a turnaround of 75 days. The opioid crisis has negatively impacted timeliness as analysts struggle to develop identification methods at a rate similar to that with which new synthetic opioids are created.
Over the past five years, the laboratory saw a 45 percent increase in requests. State funds will be used to hire four full-time Toxicology analysts this year to help address the backlog. Grant funds will purchase equipment and supplies necessary for these analysts to begin casework and one automated solid phase extraction instrument.
This equipment will improve turnaround time, reduce the backlog, and provide real time data on opioid prevalence to law enforcement agencies and medical examiner/coroners offices. The Latent Prints section has the third largest backlog in the Crime Laboratory Division and observed an estimated 12 percent increase in requests from February 2017 through February 2018.
Due to staffing variances, efficiency decreased by approximately 30 percent from 2017 2018, resulting in a mean turnaround time of approximately eight months for non-priority cases. State funds are used to resolve the staffing variances and will need assistance to address the backlog.
Grant funds will purchase one fuming chamber, two laser light systems, and two combination DFO/NIN Development Chambers. This equipment will reduce processing time and can further detect impressions better than current equipment. The expected outcome is improved quality of latent print services and reduced backlog through increased efficiency. Without outside assistance these purchases will not occur and the backlog of Toxicology and Latent Print cases will increase.