JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Wednesday that as of Dec. 31, the SAFE Kit Initiative, which aims to clear the backlog of untested sexual assault kits, has aided 115 police departments and sheriffs’ offices in clearing their backlogs of reported, untested sexual assault kits. Further, the office has sent 2,745 sexual assault kits to private labs for testing.”
Since launching the SAFE Kit Initiative in 2019, my office has made major strides in our mission to clear the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in the state. Helping 115 law enforcement agencies across the state clear their backlog of untested, reported kits is a huge step forward,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “From the outset, my office has kept victims top of mind in everything we do. It takes immense courage for victims to step forward and submit a sexual assault kit — it’s been my mission since launching the SAFE Kit Initiative to honor that courage and bravery by ensuring these kits get tested and that a backlog like this never happens again.”
In September, the office hosted a press conference announcing that the Springfield Police Department was the first major police department to clear its backlog of untested, reported kits.
As far as departments that have shipped all their untested, reported kits: 14 police departments and sheriffs’ offices in the mid-Missouri area have shipped all their reported, untested kits, 58 police departments and sheriffs’ offices in the Southwest Missouri area have shipped all their reported, untested kits, 32 police departments and sheriffs’ offices in the Southeast Missouri area have shipped all their reported, untested kits, five police departments in the St. Louis County area have shipped all their reported, untested kits, and four police departments in the Kansas City area have shipped all their reported, untested kits. There are several other departments scattered across the state that have also shipped all their reported, untested kits.
The office plans to continue coordinating regional shipping events, which have been a “huge success” in aiding more rural departments to get their kits shipped, throughout the state of Missouri into the new year, which will provide the opportunity to increase the number of departments that will eliminate their backlog of untested, reported sexual assault kits.
The SAFE Kits Initiative, funded by a grant administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, was launched by Attorney General Schmitt on Feb. 27, 2019 to inventory all untested sexual assault kits in the backlog, create an electronic tracking system, and send those identified kits to a lab for forensic testing and potentially, eventual prosecution. Judge M. Keithley Williams heads the initiative.
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