Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,500,000)
The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) is applying as the lead agency under Purpose Area 4 of the 2022 National Sexual Assault Kit Grant Announcement to support the investigation of unsolved sexual assault cases through advanced DNA testing and research methodologies and investigative tools. Sexual assaults and homicides involving sexual assaults which occur in areas patrolled by the NJSP, are violent crimes and all efforts are put forth to solve them. Unfortunately, in recent years, there has been a lack of funding to address the various investigative opportunities that would greatly enhance the NJSP’s ability to serve the rural communities they patrol. With the increasing cost of advanced technology platforms and the limited capacity to utilize these platforms, grant funds for testing are essential to assist with the necessary efforts to reinvestigate unsolved sexual assault cases.
With the integration of the NJSP Cold Case Regional Task Force, the Cold Case Unit’s caseload continues to expand. The unit is currently in the process of reviewing and re-investigating approximately 59 sexual assault and sexual-related homicide cases. Due diligence has shown that where initial testing was conducted, some cases evidence profiles were not developed. In other cases, evidence profiles were developed but yielded no matches in Combined DNA index System (CODIS). Additionally, this number is expected to increase, as cases are also being contributed by Task Force Officers and other local law enforcement agencies in the State of New Jersey.
Through this collaborative proposal, the NJSP seeks to enhance the investigation of unsolved sexual assault cases and homicides that are sexual in nature. The Cold Case Unit will continue to accurately account for the unsolved sexual assaults, with an emphasis on the homicides that involve sexual assault. Once cases are accurately cataloged and reviewed, the labor-intensive element of the cases will commence the re-investigation phase. This will require the enlisted members of the unit to study evidence, evaluate the best methods to analyze those items, and conduct interviews and new evidence collection, which may require additional costs in overtime and travel expenses.
Grant funding will be used for personnel and task force officer overtime, fringe benefits, training, investigative travel, enhancing victim services, travel costs associated with victim, witness and suspect engagements, maintaining compliance with recommendations from the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP), and equipment and supplies that support the efforts of the unit.