Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $849,491)
Like many jurisdictions across the country, Kentucky faced a crisis of thousands of previously un-submitted sexual assault forensic exam kits (“SAFE” kits) and a lack of justice for victims of sexual assault. Soon after, the Kentucky State Auditor’s office began a comprehensive survey of the problem of un-submitted and untested SAFE kits across the Commonwealth and found over 3,000 un-submitted kits. Based on this inventory of untested kits, Kentucky State Police Central Laboratory (hereinafter “KSP Lab”), the state crime lab for all testing of SAFE kits, was successful in seeking nearly $2 million in grant funding from the District Attorney of New York (DANY) to test up to 3,300 untested SAFE Kits. Kentucky’s situation is somewhat unique in that it has two statewide project sites. Originally the SAKI-funded investigative team was housed within the Office of the Attorney General (KYOAG). In FY 2020, SAKI funding was received by the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet (KJPSC) to transition 3 trained investigators and a criminal intelligence analyst from KYOAG to a newly established SAKI Investigative Team at the KSP. Based on available arrest and conviction numbers, as well as a strong understanding of myriad of issues that contributed to the initial backlog, the Commonwealth of Kentucky wishes to continue to expand their capacity to arrest and prosecute these cold cases involving violent sexual assault and sexually motivated homicides through a comprehensive approach that mirrors the established BJA Model. The KJPSC application for FY 2021 SAKI funding proposes, 1) Fund the testing of an anticipated 500 kits from Phase 3 to finalize testing for Kentucky’s entire certified inventory; 2) Collect data on cases associated with CODIS and ViCAP hits; track contemporaneous SAK submissions; collect sexually-motivated homicide information 3) Increasing investigative and administrative resources in Louisville- Jefferson County, the single largest contributor to the inventory of untested SAKs in Kentucky. KJPSC believes that the proposed project represents the next logical stage of growth, and provides critical resources to support the investigation of those kits contained within the certified inventory. Likewise, it ensures that we continue to build upon the work completed by previous SAKI projects, and provides a mechanism to continue to enhance the knowledge base for future funded programs. By expanding the investigative team to the area in which the largest number of kits were identified, we can begin to bring justice to victims and ensure public safety within Kentucky.