FDLE members from throughout Florida were honored in Tallahassee this week for their outstanding performances last year including Pensacola Forensic Technologist Jennifer Spatola recognized as the Distinguished Support Member of the Year.
FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass says, “FDLE has incredible members committed to thoughtful, innovative advancements that continue to make FDLE a premiere law enforcement agency in Florida, and the country. These members strive to enhance our criminal justice partnerships and to find ways to improve how we keep Florida’s citizens and visitors safe. I am honored to recognize these nominees and award winners for their selfless commitment to service and excellence.”
Distinguished Support Member of the Year – Jennifer Spatola, Forensic Technologist, Pensacola Regional Operations Center
FDLE Pensacola Friction Ridge Section Forensic Technologist Jennifer Spatola took on a number of tasks in addition to her own in 2021. She volunteered to work evidence intake to aid with staffing shortages, provided advice to contributors on proper photography techniques for latent prints, worked tirelessly to problem-solve equipment malfunctions and was the Pensacola event photographer. Even more significant, Ms. Spatola took the initiative to conduct extensive research on a new chemical called Nile Blue for the development of latent prints. Nile Blue is higher quality, less expensive and easier to use than the current method. Nile Blue has since been validated for use in the friction ridge section and Ms. Spatola was instrumental in providing the necessary information for the validation process.
In addition, Pensacola Crime Laboratory Analyst Victoria Kipker was recognized as part of a team for the Innovation of the Year award.
Innovation of the Year – Biology Laboratory Information Management System (BIO-LIMS) Development Team, Rachel Aponte, Molly Carter, Christopher Conklin, Jennifer Eatmon, Chris Hendry, Maria Hiott, Victoria Kipker, Jack Martin, Tim Miller, Michelle Mullins, Steve Rutledge, Jillian White, Xujing Sun, Brandon Floyd, Donna Carney and Kurt Posey
With FDLE’s six regional laboratories, maintenance of forensic examination records is of the utmost importance, particularly when you consider the approximately 60,000 distinct cases and 1 million items of evidence handled in a calendar year. Case file storage space, cost and efficiency issues led to an initiative to go paperless and in 2021, the BIO-LIMS project was introduced. The BIO-LIMS team, alongside members from Information Technology Services, devoted thousands of hours, including weekends, to minimize impact to laboratory operations during normal working hours. This diverse team brought together distinct regional needs into an adaptable, innovative product that will improve consistency, minimize errors, reduce the physical paper footprint and simplify statewide quality review processes that will leave a long-lasting positive impact to FDLE’s service in the field of forensic Biology and DNA.