Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $363,090)
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 city of Fayetteville will use this 2015 SAKI award to fund the Fayetteville Police Department Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit (CCSAU) Justice for Victims Project. The Fayetteville Police Department currently has 230 Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs) in its Evidence Control Room for the time period of 1984 to 1999. A bulk of these kits were stored during a period where DNA testing was not an option or, when it was, the state lab would not take the SAKs for testing unless there was a known suspect standard. This, coupled with manpower/staffing issues along with an emphasis on solving current cases over old cases, has resulted in a backlog of untested SAKs. The Fayetteville Police Department has recently created a Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit with a dedicated detective to investigate old unsolved stranger rapes. SAKI funds will allow: the CCSAU to conduct a thorough audit of the 230 SAKs to determine if the cases fit the criteria of an unsolved stranger rape where DNA testing could reveal a potential suspect; travel expenditures associated with investigations; other training and travel expenses; equipment purchases; the testing and analysis of SAKs; and other costs necessary for project implementation.