On September 6, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester), Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee announced the awarding of $209,355 to Westchester County to reduce the current backlog of cases to be analyzed for DNA. The grant was awarded through the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program.
“This critical federal funding will ensure Westchester County has the resources to reduce its DNA backlog and increase its capacity to handle future cases, improving public safety in the process,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “As the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue to bring these essential resources to the Lower Hudson Valley.”
“Westchester County is pleased to receive a federal grant award from the US Department of Justice for our Labs and Research Department for important DNA analysis,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. “We are actively working to reduce the remaining casework backlog and upgrade our equipment to improve efficiency going forward. This funding will assist Westchester County’s actions to improve its services and work more effectively to resolve pending cases. We appreciate the efforts of Congresswoman Nita Lowey to help secure this important federal funding.”
Westchester County estimated that by the end of 2018, there will be approximately 305 backlogged forensic DNA cases. Between 2010 and 2017, the average annual increase of cases received was 9 percent. In order to reduce the current backlog, the county will use this federal funding to cover equipment purchases, overtime, and travel expenses.
The DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program assists eligible states and units of local government to process, record, screen and analyze forensic DNA and/or DNA database samples, and to increase the capacity of public forensic DNA and DNA database laboratories to process more DNA samples, helping to reduce the number of forensic DNA and DNA database samples awaiting analysis.