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Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force Capacity Building Initiative

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $2,000,000)

The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) provides funding to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, and prosecutor’s 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 Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office is awarded an FY 2016 SAKI award under Purpose Area 1 to build upon existing structures and successes of the SAKI Task Force. The Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Task Force (led by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office [CCPO], in partnership with the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, the Cleveland Division of Police and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center) was established in 2013 to begin investigating and prosecuting cases resulting from the testing of over 4,900 unsubmitted SAKs for Cuyahoga County. The goal of this project is to enhance the Task Force's capacity to continue to address these cases in an evidence-based, victim-centered manner. This goal will be achieved through: increasing the capacity for prosecution and victim advocacy in response to the recent, dramatic increase in the number of cases; enhancing Task Force competencies and capabilities through additional cross-disciplinary training by CRCC on victim-centered practices; developing technical and practical guidance on victim advocacy for other jurisdictions; evaluating and refining the new victim notification protocol for pre-1993 cases; and leveraging non-forensic data on sexual assaults, victims, and offenders to help identify suspects. Through this project, the CCPO will be able to investigate thousands of cases in a judicious and victim-centered manner, provide need training to Task Force members, and provide insight into the best practices for addressing the issue of victim advocacy and use of non-forensic data contained in the SAK case files the help identify offenders. Lessons learned from these activities will be disseminated to other SAKI sites. Funds will be used for personnel costs for investigators, victim advocates, and a Site Coordinator; and for contractual costs to deliver trainings and for research and evaluation.


Date Created: September 26, 2016