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UAlbany's Northeast Regional Forensic Institute awarded U.S. Department of Justice Grant to Improve Forensic Services

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Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 18, 2006) -- The University at Albany's Northeast Regional

Robert Carney, W. Mark Dale, Michael McNulty, Susan Herbst, and  Patricia DeAngelis

Joining in the announcement of a new information technology initiative at the Northeast Regional Forensic Institute (NERFI) were, from left: Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney, NERFI Director W. Mark Dale, Congressman Michael McNulty, UAlbany Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Herbst, and Rensselaer County District Attorney Patricia DeAngelis.

Forensic Institute (NERFI) announced today a collaboration with the New York Prosecutors Training Institute (NYPTI) to establish a pilot project for linking the forensic Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the Prosecutor Case Management System (PCMS) to increase the efficiency, timeliness and quality of forensic services offered to the criminal justice community. The two management systems will be linked to provide prosecutors and forensic scientists with the most up-to-date information on what analyses are completed and what types of analyses are needed for court proceedings. Congressman Michael R. McNulty, who was instrumental in securing $100,000 for NERFI from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) in the US Department of Justice to move the project forward, helped announce the project, along with UAlbany provost and Executive Vice President Susan Herbst and NERFI Director W. Mark Dale.

"The purpose of this pilot project is to increase the efficiency of the forensic case management processes with Information Technology," said Congressman McNulty. "It was an honor to help lay the foundation for this system, which will aid prosecutors and forensic scientists alike. I congratulate the University at Albany and the Northeast Regional Forensic Institute and look forward to seeing this project advance."

"On behalf of the University at Albany, I thank Congressman McNulty for his efforts to help us launch this new initiative at the Northeast Regional Forensic Institute," said Herbst. "By dramatically increasing the communication between forensic laboratories and state prosecutors, our new linkage will provide timely and accurate information on the status of cases and approved forensic reports needed for court proceedings."

"An electronic connection between the prosecutors and the forensic laboratories will provide the linkage that will dramatically increase the efficiency of case management for all prosecutors," said Robert Carney, Schenectady County District Attorney. "The Northeast Regional Forensic Institute at the University at Albany can provide the expertise to forge this connection using modern Information Technology. Forging this link would not have been possible if not for the support of Congressman McNulty and the efforts of the team here at NERFI and UAlbany."

"We need vital forensic information from the laboratories as soon as possible," said Patricia DeAngelis, Rensselaer County District Attorney. "An electronic connection between the prosecutors and laboratories' case management systems will provide much needed benefits in efficiency and timeliness of case management, which is essential for us to be able to provide the best service to our community. I extend my thanks to Congressman McNulty for securing the funding necessary to start this very promising technology project, I congratulate NERFI for undertaking this initiative."

"The University at Albany Northeast Regional Forensic Institute has proven to be a valuable resource in providing DNA training for forensic scientists," said Sean Byrne, executive director of the New York Prosecutors Training Institute (NYPTI). "NYPTI welcomes this opportunity to work with NERFI to leverage the strengths of the University at Albany with the criminal justice community. Support from Congressman McNulty was essential to link the multiple agencies in this technology project."

"We welcome the opportunity to work with NYPTI and the NYS District Attorneys to provide the program management necessary to link the management information systems used by district attorneys and forensic laboratories," said Dale. "Our Moot Court partnership with NYPTI has proved to be the capstone of our 12-week, 12-graduate-credit-hour DNA Academy program. We look forward to providing the program management for this critical electronic linkage of partners in the criminal justice community. This would not have been possible without support from Congressman McNulty."

The new pilot project is designed to provide the prosecutor and forensic scientist with up-to-date accurate information on what analyses are completed and what types of analyses are needed for court proceedings. Laboratory reports will be accessible within a secure database that will be updated daily with new information. The prosecutor will be able to access final reports needed for prosecution and communicate instantaneously with the forensic scientist responsible for the analyses. Human personnel will not be needed to transport hard copies of reports and requests for further analyses between the prosecutor and forensic scientist. All data and reports will be archived in a safe and secure electronic database environment that can be queried by authorized personnel in both agencies.

About NERFI:
The Northeast Regional Forensics Institute (NERFI) is a collaborative effort between the University at Albany and local forensic laboratories, established in 2004 with the support of New York Senator Charles E. Schumer. NERFI addresses the current high demand for trained professionals in forensic laboratories while simultaneously fostering the research required to improve the speed, accuracy, and effectiveness of future forensic analyses. NERFI trains and educates students in current forensic industry standards and procedures, conducts research, validates new forensic techniques, offers competency training for newly hired analysts, and provides continuing education for practicing forensic scientists.

About the DNA Academy:
The DNA Academy, NERFI's forensic training program, is a first-in-the-nation, credit-granting Academy that provides 12-week, 12-graduate-credit-hour programs which eliminate the standard 12-month mentor training for new forensic scientists. Eliminating the standard 12-month mentor training process allows seasoned forensic scientists to focus on the backlog of DNA cases instead of spending valuable time mentoring new employees. The DNA Academy curriculum is customized on a state-by-state basis for DNA Casework and coursework is adapted to suit the needs of each laboratory and agency, adjusting for differences in state laws and standard operating procedures.


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