Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $407,395)
The Washoe County Sheriff's Office, Forensic Science Division (WCSO-FSD) is the agency that is responsible for analyzing forensic evidence associated with criminal investigations for all state and local law enforcement agencies within the northern region of the state of Nevada. The WCSO-FSD Biology Unit is responsible for overseeing DNA analysis and subsequent upload to NDIS, forensic profiles and DNA samples collected from all convicted felons and felony arrests within the northern portion of the state. As the designated state CODIS laboratory, the WCSO-FSD is also responsible for uploading all eligible database profiles submitted from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Forensic Laboratory.
The number of cases that the WCSO-FSD Biology Unit receives each year has continued to rise. With the passing of legislation requiring all sexual assault kits collected in Nevada be tested within 120 days of receipt into the laboratory and a constant rise in the population, the demand for DNA testing has increased significantly. With the current staffing numbers, the Biology Unit is unable to keep up with such a demand. To increase the capacity and efficiency of the Biology Unit and therefore reduce the casework backlog, this grant will fund the purchase of 3 instruments, 2 alternate light source systems, and validation services needed to validate the Y screening method. The laboratory will also purchase offender kits, sexual assault kits, suspect kits; and DNA genotyping software licenses for 5 new DNA criminalists using funds from this grant. This grant will also fund travel and training for the Biology Unit.
This award will be specifically used for the following goals:
1. Provide continuing education for DNA Criminalists in the laboratory
2. Increase the capacity and capabilities of the WCSO-FSD casework and databasing laboratory
The laboratory expects to have a turnaround time of less than 60 days for offender sample analysis; decrease the Forensic Biology casework turnaround time to 120 days or less; decrease the number of backlogged cases to less than 579, and increase the average number of samples analyzed per analyst per month to >25.