Marshall University Forensic Science Center receives $3.3 million to assist forensic crime laboratories
Marshall University’s Forensic Science Center has received $3.3 million in funding secured by U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., to provide assistance to forensic crime laboratories.
Marshall President Dan Angel said the appropriation will provide opportunities for national outreach. “Marshall’s impact on the forensic science community will be strengthened by the working relationships that will be forged with forensic laboratories within West Virginia and in other states,” Dr. Angel said.
The Forensic Science Center serves as a national resource for the forensic community as part of the Forensic Resource Network (FRN), a program funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) providing research, evaluation tools, and direct services to crime laboratories to improve their abilities to solve crimes.
The Forensic Science Center will provide funding for the FRN’s Community Support Initiative, a national effort to support training. Activities in support of the initiative include: providing services for forensic labs to change DNA analysis platforms; developing a forensic crime lab ethics toolkit; further development of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program; and expanding computer forensic training at Marshall Information Security and Digital Evidence Center (MISDE). Research includes continuing studies of analytical chemistry related to smokeless powders and gasoline residue individualization.
Terry W. Fenger, Ph.D., director of the Forensic Science Center, said the center’s role has expanded to support a national effort to improve and provide training to state and local crime labs.
“The center’s model working forensic laboratory will continue to provide assistance to forensic crime laboratories by utilizing its DNA lab and computer forensics lab in research and development, testing and evaluation, and model training,” Fenger said.
The Forensic Science Center will continue its long-term memorandum of understanding with the West Virginia State Police to provide DNA genotyping on convicted offenders for the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and quality assurance services.
Sen. Byrd added the funding to the Fiscal Year 2004 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill which was wrapped into a larger federal funding package. The legislation was signed into law in February. The funding is a cooperative agreement with the NIJ under the Community-Oriented Policing program.
The Forensic Science Center includes the Forensic Science Program, a two-year master’s degree program in Forensic Science, and assists law enforcement in training and education to meet national standards and continuing education requirements. The center’s laboratory for West Virginia Combined DNA Index System is ISO/IEC 17025 compliant as a testing and calibration laboratory and is accredited by the NFSTC as a DNA databasing laboratory. In addition, the laboratory is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks for parentage testing.