FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky State Police (KSP) Forensic Laboratories have received a $1.9 million grant from the District Attorney of New York County (DANY) in Manhattan for DNA testing on unanalyzed sexual assault kits in Kentucky. The funds will assist law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth in processing the back logged kits.
KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer was pleased to receive word of the grant award.
"We now have the resources to address these backlogged rape kits, providing hope to the victims who had the courage to report the assault and undergo an invasive examination," says Brewer.
In 2012, the KSP Laboratory staff began a statewide program to locate sexual assault evidence collection kits that had been sitting on the shelves of police storage facilities, having never been submitted to the lab for testing. Some of these kits were from recent assaults and others from attacks years ago.
The KSP Laboratory worked with law enforcement agencies to have the kits submitted to the laboratory where they were labeled as "Sexual Assault Initiative Cases" and grant money was sought to have the cases worked.
In the 2015 Kentucky legislative session, Senate Joint Resolution 20, sponsored by Senator Harper-Angel, directed The Kentucky Auditor's Office to conduct an audit and determine how many un-submitted kits are stored at all Kentucky police agencies. Their inquiry resulted in the submission of more than 500 kits in addition to the 315 that the laboratory had already located.
The KSP Laboratory applied for grant funding in May from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. The grant will fund the outsourcing of up to 3,300 kits and the formation of a Task Force to focus on policies for the automatic submission of sexual assault evidence collection kits. As the clearing the shelves of these kits is a one-time event, outsourcing will limit the impact on the KSP Laboratories working the current cases. The grant will run for two years with 300 kits outsourced monthly and the resulting perpetrator DNA profiles uploaded into CODIS by the State Police Laboratory.
In 2000, New York had 17,000 untested rape kits. Over the next four years, in a push to clear the backlog, the city had the kits tested. After entering the DNA profiles into the national DNA database, CODIS, 49 indictments connected to unsolved cases in Manhattan alone. Seeing these efforts as a model for jurisdictions around the country to replicate, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, announced a $35 million program to help other cities and states tackle their own backlogs.