Funding for forensics

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 20, 2005

REGION- The Alabama Department of Forensic Science has received four grants which total approximately four million dollars.

Two of which were announced by Senator Richard Shelby and the others are courtesy of the National Institute of Justice.

Taylor Noggle, the department director, said the $146, 930 Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant will be used to enhance screening methods in the toxicology department.

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“We will be able to screen for more drugs,” Noggle said. “Instead of the standard 8 drugs, we will be able to scan for 13 or 14.”

Some of the funding will also pay for two new labs and the instruments needed to conduct tests.

“We will use about 70,000 to outsource the results to private vendors and laboratories,” Noggle said. “This way we can allow the criminal cases to stay in house.”

The other three grants, including $482,225 for the Forensic Casework DNA Backlog Reduction Program, will be used to provide new equipment in Alabama’s current DNA units, work on backlogging DNA cases and to pay employees overtime to do so.

The backlogging process includes creating a convicted offender database so forensic scientists can submit DNA for a DNA profile in order to search a database dating back to 1994.

“We have been able to solve more than 700 crimes when the officers didn’t have a suspect,” Noggle said about the ability of the database. “It’s absolutely amazing technology.”

This is the department’s third year receiving the Coverdell grant and Noggle plans to continue to apply for appropriate funding opportunities.

“We’ll pursue grants diligently when the money is out there to supplement what we get from the state.”