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City Awarded Critical Funding to Test Sexual Assault Kits

Plans Now in Place to End the Backlog

October 2, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE- Today Mayor Berry and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) announced a $2.5 million grant award from the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs that will go a long way toward funding the administration’s plans to address the testing and investigation of APD’s sexual assault kit inventory. 

The funding is part of the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant and adds to previous efforts by the City and the Berry Administration to tackle the decades old rape kit backlog at APD.  In July 2016, Mayor Richard Berry recognized the need to focus on the national issue of sexual assault kit backlogs when he launched ‘Project 333’; a $200,000 initiative to identify, locate and pursue untested evidence within APD’s crime lab. So far 1,000 kits have been evaluated and 300 have been found viable for further testing.

In Fiscal Year 2018 the City increased the APD lab’s budget by $1 million to specifically work on sexual assault kits.  With the addition $1 million in funding, $200,000 is being used to hire two new Forensic Scientists and $250,000 is being used to purchase and implement a laboratory information management system (LIMS). The remaining $400,000 is being used to begin testing kits.  The first kits will be sent out within weeks for testing by outside laboratories.

The $2.5 million SAKI grant will be utilized to help pay for the testing of a significant number of remaining sexual assault kits and fund investigative support for sexual assault investigations and DNA analysis.

Now, with the addition of this grant, the Berry Administration has collectively funded this effort $3.7 million to address this issue.

“I care deeply about this issue and we want all victims of sexual assault to know that they are not forgotten,” said Mayor Berry. “We now have the people, plans and many of the required resources in place to work through this decades old backlog,” he added.

Chief Gorden Eden says, “APD works hard treat each and every one of these cases with the utmost care, sensitivity and priority. Now, with the proper groundwork being done, we can work smarter, not harder to close these cases.  We thank the Department of Justice and the Administration for awarding the Albuquerque Police Department this grant.”

While many law enforcement agencies destroy or discard old rape kits, APD keeps all kits. The department currently has approximately 3,800 untested kits, with the oldest kit dating back to 1988. Nationally, it is estimated that there are 400,000 untested sexual assault kits. It is the department’s policy and belief that despite the consequence of having a high volume of untested kits; it is a better practice to preserve the potential forensic evidence in the event prosecution is possible at any future point.

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