Nevada’s backlog of untested sexual assault kits cleared
CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - Nevada has reached a major milestone in the effort to eliminate the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in the state.
Attorney General Aaron Ford announced Thursday that testing for all previously backlogged sexual assault kits from prior to 2016 is now complete.
AG Ford praised efforts by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Laboratory which completed testing on over 1,100 kits from northern Nevada, along with the completion of testing kits in southern Nevada from earlier this year.
The initiative resulted in 7,814 tests completed and 64 arrests. There were also 1,083 DNA matches and 121 warrants issued.
“As law enforcement, there is perhaps nothing more important than helping our vulnerable communities and providing them with the support and resources they need to move forward,” said Attorney General Ford. “Now, every Nevadan impacted by the state’s sexual assault kit backlog can rest easy knowing that their results are in-hand and that law enforcement stands ready to assist should they decide to pursue justice. My office has long been a champion for these survivors and we are a proud to be a part of this critical moment in our state’s history.”
“This year, my office was awarded a 2020 Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant, making my office the only Attorney General’s Office in the country to be awarded six consecutive sexual assault kit grants since the inception of the program,” continued AG Ford.
“This is a major milestone that has been years in the making,” said Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam. “The scientists in our Forensic Science Division have been working tirelessly, especially throughout this past year, to create a new workflow and find efficiencies. Specifically, our Forensic Biology Unit scientists who, because of their dedication and knowledge, have increased productivity 100% in 10 months. I am incredibly proud of their hard work and commitment to achieving this goal. We also couldn’t have reached this milestone without the support of the Attorney General’s Office.”
In a press release, the attorney general’s offie released the following information:
Since 2015, the State of Nevada has allocated nearly $15 million towards this initiative, including $3.68 pledged by the Attorney General’s Office, $3 million pledged by the Nevada Legislature and approximately $8 million secured through grant funding by the Department of Justice. In 2017, the Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Bill 97, which mandated that the attorney general help establish a statewide program to track sexual assault kits and report its progress. In June 2019, the tracking system went live through Nevada’s Department of Public Safety. Now, survivors of sexual assault can track dates and milestones from the time that they report a sexual assault, to the retrieval of the kit by law enforcement, the testing of the kit, availability of test results, Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) entry/hits, law enforcement investigation review and results, and prosecution review and results.
Victim outreach and services, investigations, arrests and prosecutions remain ongoing. To learn more about Nevada’s sexual assault kit initiative and resources available to survivors, click here.
Watch AG Ford’s message to survivors and the community below:
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