Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $444,152)
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 Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 National SAKI Program will provide funds to recipients to implement or enhance the comprehensive BJA model to address the issues that underline the problem of unsubmitted SAKs or to expand their existing SAKI project to include the collection of lawfully owed DNA samples from convicted offenders.
The city of Duluth is awarded an FY 2016 SAKI award under Purpose Area 1 to target victim/survivors of sexual assault in southern St. Louis County, Minnesota. The city of Duluth was a recipient of a FY 2015 BJA SAKI award and has inventoried unsubmitted 563 SAKs. The FY 2016 application seeks to improve the quality of responses to future reports of sexual assaults from the initial contact with the victim through prosecution. Law enforcement and prosecution acknowledge that Sexual Assault Nurse Examinations (SANE) provide the highest quality exam experience for victim survivors and the strongest initial evidence. The city strives for 100% SANE coverage at their four medical facilities but experience SANE coverage levels as low as 12%, which affects victim-survivors reporting. Additonally, with the increased number of sexual assault kits being submitted and tracked, the SAKs are creating a backlog of all evidence being maintained by our Evidence Lab at the Duluth Police Department. The goals of this project are to: strengthen the SANE program to ensure reporting options to victim-survivors through training, funding of a SANE Coordinator position, and updating anonymous reporting protocol to increase conversion of anonymous kits to standard reports; reduce the backlog of evidence at the Duluth Police Department by hiring and training a full-time Evidence Technician to specialize in SAK maintenance, submittal and clearance, and testing previously unsubmitted SAKs which have been converted from anonymous to standard reports; and improve the rate that previously unsubmitted SAKs and related evidence are submitted for testing and cleared from the Property and Evidence Unit by developing protocol for SAK handling, and outsourcing testing of previously unsubmitted toxicology (blood and urine) kits to a certified laboratory.