Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $1,011,096)
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 Duluth Police Department will use this 2015 SAKI award to address the backlog of 484 unsubmitted SAKs. The goals of the project are to: Reduce the number of unsubmitted SAKs through the establishment of a multidisciplinary SAKI working group; Perform an inventory of all unsubmitted SAKs; Implement a comprehensive plan to inventory, test, and track unsubmitted SAKs through adjudication, hiring a site coordinator, and submission of unsubmitted SAKs to MN BCA for testing; Increase the number of investigations and prosecutions of unsubmitted SAK cases through the development of victim notification and support services, hiring of a SAKI investigator for the DPD SCAN Unit, and hiring a paralegal; Creation of a victim-center approach to backlogged SAK investigations and prosecutions through the hiring of a SAKI victim advocate; and Developing victim-centered protocols and practices for notification and follow-up with victims related to their previously unsubmitted SAKs.