U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $345,144 in federal funding for the Monroe County Crime Lab (MCCL). This funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Institute of Justice’s DNA Backlog Reduction Program. The MCCL currently services 52 law enforcement agencies across eight counties in Upstate New York. However, the lab currently does not have the funding or ability to efficiently perform DNA analyses, resulting in a large backlog of cases. This federal funding will provide it the resources necessary to enhance MCCL’s capacity for handling DNA analyses, which will allow it to reduce the large amount of backlogged cases.
“DNA research is an increasingly vital and integral part of forensic research, and therefore law enforcement. But right now, the overwhelming demand on the MCCL has created a backlog of more than 150 cases – this is a hindrance to the justice system and our local analysts need this funding for additional resources to help them clear this backlog,” said Senator Schumer. “These funds will give the lab the resources it needs to analyze evidence samples more rapidly and accurately to solve crimes so we can keep Rochester families safe.”
“This federal investment will allow the Monroe County Crime Lab to invest in their staff and help reduce the current backlog of DNA cases,” said Senator Gillibrand. “By reducing the backlog we can hold more dangerous criminals accountable, and keep our families safe.”
Currently, there are 156 backlogged cases awaiting DNA analysis at MCCL. Schumer and Gillibrand said this has been a tremendous hindrance to the criminal justice system, as MCCL’s analysis is used in sexual assault and other cases that rely on DNA evidence. This federal funding, the Senators said, will help clear this backlog. Specifically, this federal investment will help pay the salary of a Forensic Biologist staff position, as well as help cover the costs of supplies, equipment and educational programs needed for local analysts. With these needs met, the lab will be able to enhance its capacity for handling DNA analyses, which will allow it to reduce the large amount of backlogged cases.
The DNA Backlog Reduction Program is a grant-based initiative under the DOJ’s National Institute of Justice. The program’s purpose is to allocate funding to state and local law enforcement entities that need assistance enhancing their capacity to and for handling DNA case analyses. Qualifying laboratories are generally able to determine where their funding goes, based on their individual needs.