Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $828,203)
The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) provides funding to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors offices to support multidisciplinary community response teams engaged in the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) - i.e. those SAKs that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory.
The goal of the SAKI is the creation of a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to these cases whenever possible through a victim-centered approach, as well as to build jurisdictions capacity to prevent the development of conditions that lead to high numbers of unsubmitted SAKs in the future. The holistic program provides jurisdictions with resources to address their unsubmitted SAK issue, including support to inventory, test, and track SAKs; create and report performance metrics; access necessary training to increase effectiveness in addressing the complex issues associated with these cases and engage in multidisciplinary policy development, implementation, and coordination; and improve practices related to investigation, prosecution, and victim engagement and support in connection with evidence and cases resulting from the testing process.
The Mobile Police Department (MPD) will use this 2015 SAKI award to facilitate the inventory, processing, and testing of 1,793 unsubmitted sexual assault kits by the State of Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. The MPD Identification Unit (ID) handles the evidence processing for over 10,800 incidents each year. The backlog of processing SAKs has resulted in a delayed apprehension and prosecution of criminals within the region. The MPD-ID Unit currently tracks SAKs using an Excel spreadsheet; however, once the SAKs are transferred to the property section, tracking of the process is not available. Although MPD is comparable to other agencies regarding the clearance rates of crimes involving a victim, MPD continues to remain below the Alabama state average in the processing of SAKs. BJA SAKI funds will be used to fund personnel costs to investigate, prosecute, and track SAKs, facilitate the transfer of SAKs to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for testing, provide victim advocacy, and fund a Site Coordinator; training costs; and equipment and supplies.