Rapid DNA systems require a significant initial investment; however, there is strong pressure to budget for these initiatives given the reductions in personnel in major crime areas.
Because of the challenges that even the best labs face in maintaining a high-quality, reliable forensic workflow, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has spent more than $500 million since 2004 to add infrastructure and IT systems to help reduce the backlog. Many laboratories have used the DOJ's grant program to purchase automation and database technologies. Other funding opportunities include Justice Assistance Grants and the COPS Community Policing Development program (also from DOJ), state and local grants with a law enforcement focus, and private corporate and family foundations. Many of these grants are focused on crime prevention, forensics, and the training required to install new technologies.
Rapid DNA technologies are strong candidates for grant proposals because they speed arrests and can potentially help communities reduce non-violent crime. When applying for grants, agencies need to assess and summarize their needs and explain how the project will be designed and implemented. It is also important to describe how the results will be monitored and reported.
When estimating costs, also include instrument and consumables, associated resources, and training costs required to run the system. Agencies can also search the Web for "law enforcement equipment grants" to find local and federal grant websites that provide guidelines for applications.