Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt have updated the community on the progress of clearing a backlog of untested sexual assault kits.
Williams say the city has now sent the remaining 15 kits to a lab for testing.
Here’s more from the city in a news release by the police department:
On Sept. 23, 2021, the Springfield Police Department cleared its backlog of sexual assault kits, shipping the final 15 kits to a lab for testing. This comes after a nearly two-year process of working with local and state partners to secure funding and a laboratory.
The initial SPD backlog consisted of 231 kits dating from 1989 – 2015. In December of 2019 the SPD was selected as the first agency to participate in the Missouri Attorney General’s SAFE Kits Initiative (SAKI), and the first 30 backlogged kits were sent to a private lab (BODE Technology) for testing. In 2020, SAKI supported an additional 82 backlogged kits to be sent for testing.
SAKI, funded by a grant administered from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, was launched by Attorney General Eric Schmitt in January of 2019 to inventory all untested sexual assault kits, create an electronic tracking system and send those identified kits to a lab for forensic testing.
In February 2021, with support from the Springfield City Council Task Force on Sexual Assault, Council approved $120,000 to send an additional 119 kits for testing. Those kits were sent to the lab on August 25th. At that time, SPD learned of an additional 15 backlogged kits that were being housed at the Missouri State Highway Patrol crime lab. This morning, (Sept. 23, 2021) SAKI working group Chair Judge M. Keithley Williams visited the SPD Headquarters to assist with preparing the 15 kits and they were shipped to BODE Technology for testing.
“We can honestly and truly say we are at zero untested backlogged kits and we can’t thank our partners at the state level, federal level, and the City Council Sexual Assault Task Force members enough for getting us to that point,” said Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams. “I also appreciate and applaud the dedication of SPD staff, specifically those in our Special Victims Unit and Property Room, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that this process was handled with meticulous care. Now we can move forward in these investigations and help survivors of sexual assault in Springfield seek long-awaited justice.”
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams are hosting a press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to give an update on the progress of the SAFE Kit Initiative and talk about the Springfield Police Department ‘s work to clear the inventory of untested sexual assault kits.
The SAFE Kit Initiative was launched by Schmitt in February of 2019 to clear the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Missouri.
Since that time, Schmitt says his office has completed a comprehensive inventory and held a multitude of shipping events to get untested sexual assault kits to the private lab to be tested.