LAS VEGAS, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt has announced his office will pledge $3.68 million in funding to eliminate Nevada’s backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits, or “rape kits.”
The funding is a result of a statewide Sexual Assault Kit Working Group led by the Nevada Attorney General’s Office to create policies and procedures associated with the backlog. These procedures would assist in identifying suspects and prosecuting cases through investigation and DNA evidence. Funding will be allocated toward finding ways to address the backlog, as well as other investigative and prosecutorial tasks. Together with the $2 million grant from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, this funding will virtually eliminate Nevada’s rape kit backlog.
A sexual assault kit is used to collect physical evidence during an invasive and lengthy examination conducted at a hospital or rape crisis center following a sexual assault. Generally, these kits contain a checklist, materials and instructions, as well as a means to package any specimens collected during the examination.
“As of this month, more than 7,500 rape kits in Nevada remain untested, preventing law enforcement from apprehending criminals and deterring future serial crimes,” said Laxalt. “These funds should not only speak to survivors, assuring them that this state is invested in securing their deserved justice, but to law enforcement agents, who can now begin to solve related crimes. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Lombardo and I were committed from our new tenures to addressing this backlog, and thanks to the dedication of our offices, we are now able to take this next step in propelling Nevada’s law enforcement communities to take a victim-centered approach to justice.”
The Sexual Assault Kit Working Group is comprised of representatives from the Clark County District Attorney’s Office, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Henderson Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Rape Crisis Center of Southern Nevada, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Center for Forensic Nursing Excellence, Assemblywoman Benitez-Thompson and Assemblyman Derek Armstrong.
The secured funds were made available through a Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant program and a Bureau of Consumer Protection settlement. The Nevada Attorney General’s Office will present the settlement funds to the Interim Finance Committee to ensure the money is approved to address the backlog.