Fremont City

Staff Report

AUTHORIZATION TO ENTER INTO SERVICE AGREEMENT WITH SEROLOGICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE - Authorize the City Manager to Enter into Service Agreement with Serological Research Institute to Provide DNA Evidence Analysis


Department:Police DepartmentSponsors:
Category:Agreements and Contracts


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Item Discussion

Executive Summary: The Fremont Police Department believes in using the most recent scientific advances to solve crime for our community. One of these advances that has been useful for decades has been extracting DNA from evidence at a crime scene to prove or disprove a person is a suspect in an investigation. Since 2014, the Fremont Police Department has been using Serological Research Institute (SERI) to analyze DNA evidence in many of our cases.  SERI has been able to cut down on the amount of time it takes to test DNA and allow us to solve crime faster and more efficiently.


The contract with SERI will expire on June 30, 2019. The Fremont Police Department would like to continue to partner with SERI for their services. The proposal is to contract with SERI for the next five years at $85,000 per year for a total not to exceed $425,000.


BACKGROUND: SERI, located in Richmond, California is a fully equipped and staffed Forensic Serology/DNA Laboratory specializing in the analysis of blood and body fluids encountered as evidence in criminal and civil matters. SERI also researches new or improved methods of analysis of serological evidence. SERI has been in business since 1978.


SERI specializes in forensic biology, which is the identification of stains of blood, semen, saliva and other body fluids and the typing of genetic markers present in those stains. Information derived from serological evidence possesses the potential to eliminate suspects on a scientific basis or to include a particular individual as a possible perpetrator through genetic evidence. In addition, information derived from blood and other body fluid evidence can aid in the reconstruction of events pertinent to a crime.


The typing of genetic markers potentially obtainable from blood, bone, semen, urine, feces, vomit, vaginal secretion, saliva, and hair are performed at SERI on a routine basis. The clients for these services include: prosecution and defense attorneys, law enforcement agencies, private companies and criminalistics laboratories requiring serological expertise beyond their own capabilities. Cases range from sexual assault, homicide and other violent crimes to paternity, DUI’s, road accidents, manufacturing complaints and other civil litigation.


SERI’s serologists are court qualified and SERI is a laboratory accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors-International Accreditation Standards since 1999.


For the 2014/15 FY, the City Manager approved the police department to contract with SERI for their services in extracting and testing DNA evidence. The agreement was for $20,000 with two one-year options. A second agreement in 2017/18 was for $84,000 over two years. SERI has been integral in helping the Police Department analyze DNA evidence to solve crimes.


DISCUSSION/ANALYSIS: The Fremont Police Department believes in using DNA analysis as one way to identify or eliminate suspects in criminal investigations.  Prior to contracting with SERI, the department used local county labs to process DNA evidence.  Many times the turnaround time to receive results took more than a year and the labs did not have the most up-to-date methods of collecting DNA from evidence.


The department currently uses many different labs for different services.  However, SERI is used for their ability to process all specialty-type DNA evidence and provide the Police Department with results in a short amount of time.


A comparison of all of the local Forensic Serology/DNA Laboratories in the area (County and private) was conducted in April of 2019.  Only those labs that were located close enough for the department to be able to efficiently transport and pick up large quantities of evidence were compared. The private lab that was contacted only works with agencies on a case by case basis and is currently used by the department for cold cases, but is cost prohibitive for all DNA processing. Several County labs can also be used for DNA processing, but past experience is that results can be delayed for significant amounts of time and/or they do not have certain equipment required to analyze specialty type DNA.


The speed with which SERI can turnaround analysis has been extremely helpful in some of our cases that have been time critical. On rush orders, SERI has the ability to analyze DNA evidence and provide us with results in as little as 48 hours. SERI also uses techniques like the M-Vac Trace DNA Sampling System that is able to use a small, sterile solution-vacuum to extract DNA trapped within cloth over a wide area to provide results where traditional methods have failed. This has assisted us in recent years in solving cold case homicides and burglaries. The county criminal laboratories do not have the ability to use methods like M-Vac and they are not able to consult, analyze, and provide results in the same short window of time.


In 2018/19, due to major investigations, including solving two cold case homicides both of which were over 30 years old, the department spent our allotted budget in just over six months. The department has analyzed our past spending and forecasted our future spending. The department believes having $85,000 to spend annually for the next five years will allow us to continue to solve investigations in the same expedient manner as we have been since working with SERI.


FISCAL IMPACT: Based on other labs reviewed, the proposal is to enter into a five-year contract with SERI not to exceed $85,000 per year. The total for the five-year contract is a total not to exceed $425,000. Funding would continue to be budgeted out of the Police Department General Funds.





Document Comments

RECOMMENDATION: Authorize the City Manager or designee to enter into the Serological Research Institute Service Agreement for a five-year contract not to exceed $425,000.