Ft. Myers Crime Lab Expands to Include DNA Analysis

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) today announced plans to expand its Ft. Myers Crime Lab to include DNA analysis. The plan calls for DNA screening to occur first, followed closely by full DNA analysis beginning in October 2007. Once fully operational, the Ft. Myers Crime Lab will have the capacity to process at least 55 DNA service requests per month.

“We expect this expansion will provide faster and more efficient service to our law enforcement customers in the Ft. Myers region and at the same time reduce the incoming workload to our Tampa Crime Lab,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “We are going to continue to implement solutions that improve the way we deliver our forensic services to our law enforcement customers.”

FDLE currently provides DNA analysis at its crime labs in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Pensacola, Tampa, and Orlando. FDLE’s Ft. Myers Crime Lab provides forensic services in the disciplines of chemistry, latent prints and crime scene to agencies in Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, Okeechobee and Sarasota counties. The agency will utilize current grant dollars to fund equipment and supplies and will renovate additional space in the Ft. Myers Crime Lab. The department will also redirect vacant forensic positions and relocate experienced personnel from other FDLE labs. Currently, requests for DNA services from agencies in this region are submitted to FDLE’s Tampa Crime Lab.

The expansion of DNA analysis to the Ft. Myers lab is part of a multi-faceted plan implemented by FDLE in response to a surge in evidence submissions which resulted in backlogs statewide, particularly in DNA. FDLE has also purchased robotics for DNA sections across the state, developed new case acceptance guidelines, implemented more effective workload and staffing management practices, maximized overtime use, and outsourced DNA backlogs to other private, accredited labs. Twenty new scientists FDLE received from the Legislature in 2005 recently completed training and 10 of the scientists are assigned to DNA.

Last month, the agency teamed up with four of Florida’s sheriffs in an innovative DNA training pilot program at the National Forensic Science Technology Center. The program trains sheriff’s personnel to pre-screen evidence collected at crime scenes for the presence of DNA, ensuring that items most likely to produce a DNA profile are submitted to FDLE’s crime labs. The program is the first of its kind in the nation. Additional law enforcement agencies plan to take the training in upcoming months.

FDLE has one of the largest crime lab systems in the country and provides crime scene response as well as conducts analysis in eight forensic disciplines. Last fiscal year, FDLE scientists completed over 80,000 service requests containing more than 300,000 pieces of evidence. FDLE’s seven crime labs provide forensic analysis at no charge to Florida’s law enforcement agencies. The labs have been professionally accredited by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board since 1990.

For Further Information Contact:
Heather Smith or Kristen Perezluha
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001