The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) was presented with the August Vollmer Excellence in Forensic Science Award for contributions to forensic science at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) at their annual conference in Denver earlier this month. The organization’s program of making deployable forensic laboratories available to agencies and laboratories around the country was selected for this distinct honor.
Due to the nature of forensic analysis, any loss of operational time can create a significant backlog of casework affecting court schedules, local law enforcement processes and public safety. Deployable forensic laboratories are an innovative and efficient way to provide expansion in emergency or combat situations, or temporary replacement of forensic analysis capabilities after a natural disaster or other crisis. One of the organization’s six deployable laboratories is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, replacing facilities that were damaged by last year’s catastrophic flooding. That community’s forensic service unit was in the basement of the police department and was destroyed. The deployable laboratory is providing work space while facilities are rebuilt.
NFSTC developed the laboratories in partnership with the Department of Defense and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to make these capabilities available to local or national forces when needed.
The labs provide expandable facilities free of charge to the agency in need, support that comes through a grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). DTRA previously funded the development, integration, test, and delivery of the mobile forensic laboratories, which are operated and maintained by NFSTC and NIJ provides the funding required to maintain the units. Two other laboratories are currently in service with the Michigan State Police to assist them in continuing operations while they secure new permanent laboratory space.
The IACP recognizes the significant impact forensic science has on the criminal justice system and has established the August Vollmer Excellence in Forensic Science Award to honor the proactive, innovative use of forensic technologies by law enforcement.