Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, this week announced that the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice agency has awarded $4,000,000 to the University of Alabama. In partnership with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and the Alabama District Attorney’s Association, UA will establish and operate a National Center on Forensics.
“The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded The University of Alabama $4 million for the development of a National Center on Forensics, one of the first of its kind in the United States. This is outstanding news,” Shelby said. “The NIJ funding will allow UA to implement important training and learning opportunities in fields where forensic science and law intersect, with a heightened focus on underserved rural areas. I look forward to the lasting benefits that this new center will undoubtedly have on forensic science for years to come.”
“This unique and emergent initiative will enable our UA team and our UAB partners to help improve forensic investigation, particularly in rural areas of our state, and become a national leader for these training and learning opportunities,” said Dr. John Higginbotham, UA’s lead on the grant and senior associate vice president for research and economic development. “The grant will provide many valuable benefits, including the ability to offer medical and legal learning opportunities for students training as deputy medical examiners or coroners, with a special emphasis for those planning to live and work in underserved rural areas. We are grateful for the support of Senator Shelby during this highly competitive grant process and look forward to formally presenting this to the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.”
“The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences is one of the nation’s oldest forensic science systems, and has a long and well established history of excelling in several previous NIJ forensic science initiatives. As the only accredited provider of forensic science services in Alabama, ADFS is uniquely positioned to help train medical students early on in their medical school education sequence on the exciting career options of becoming a medical examiner/coroner through the Center, as well as helping the Center provide local, state, and nationwide training to forensic science practitioners on new and emerging technologies in the field. We offer our deepest thanks to Senator Shelby for his long standing support of forensic science and look forward to partnering with UA in this exciting endeavor to create the National Center on Forensics on the campus of the University of Alabama,” said ADFS Director Angelo Della Manna.
The center will serve a number of purposes, including:
- Developing and implementing scientific and technical learning opportunities that focus on underserved rural areas for the medico-legal community;
- Providing forensic science and legal training to law enforcement, district judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and other appropriate criminal justice agencies; and
- Developing, consolidating, and providing access to resources – such as education, training, and best practices in the forensic science community.
The $4 million in funding for the new NIJ National Center on Forensics was provided through the FY21 Consolidated Appropriations Act.