First SAFE kits delivered to private labs for testing in Missouri

Missourians are filing dozens of initiative petitions for the upcoming 2020 general election,...
Missourians are filing dozens of initiative petitions for the upcoming 2020 general election, but a state senator wants to add upfront costs and raise the standards for each proposal to get on the ballot.(Submitted)
Published: Jan. 23, 2020 at 2:17 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KFVS) - The first untested sexual assault kits inventoried through the SAFE Kits Initiative were collected at the Springfield Police Department and sent to private labs to be tested, according to Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

“Springfield Police Department has been involved in this effort from the beginning. We are pleased to partner with the Attorney General to be able to send backlogged sexual assault kits from throughout Southwest Missouri to a lab for testing,” said Springfield Police Department Chief Williams.

Untested sexual assault kits inventoried by the SAFE Kit initiative were gathered from 12 neighboring sheriff’s departments and 20 neighboring police departments. Moving forward, the same process will be used in other areas: a larger department will serve as a host agency to gather kits from smaller, neighboring departments and Sheriff’s offices to then send out to the lab to be tested.

The SAFE Kits Initiative is using a private lab to ensure kits are tested with speed and efficiency and to not overwhelm the Missouri State Highway Patrol crime lab with a large influx of kits.

The initiative, funded by a grant administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, was launched by Attorney General Schmitt in January of 2019 to inventory all untested sexual assault kits identified in a previous survey, create an electronic tracking system, and send those identified kits to a lab for forensic testing and potentially eventual prosecution.

The results of the inventory were announced in November of 2019 and compiled into a comprehensive report, which stated there were more than 6,800 untested sexual assault kits sitting in a backlog across the state of Missouri.

According to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, 90 percent of the backlogged kits were untested, not 90 percent of all sexual assault kits in the state of Missouri were or are untested.

The Attorney General’s Office is also currently working on developing an electronic tracking system.

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