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Mayor Tim Keller Observes Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Mayor Keller proposes funding for rape kit backlog and services for survivors.

Albuquerque, N.M. – April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Mayor Tim Keller is marking it by taking action to eliminate a backlog of over 4,000 untested sexual assault evidence kits (commonly called “rape kits”). Addressing the rape kit backlog is critical to honoring the commitment to survivors and getting offenders behind bars. Under the new administration, APD has sent 740 sexual assault evidence kits for testing so far.

In the Mayor’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, Keller allocated $1.8 million to address the rape kit backlog at the crime lab. The proposed budget puts money behind the executive order he issued in January 2018 directing the city’s police department and crime lab to develop a comprehensive plan for clearing the backlog. The budget will now be considered by the City Council.

“This month and every month, we are calling on Albuquerque to come together to take a stand against sexual assault,” stated Mayor Tim Keller. “Everyone in our city deserves to feel safe, and to get there we must fund public safety priorities, clear the rape kit backlog, provide services to survivors, and champion consent and respect.”

Mayor Keller and his administration, including Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair, have worked throughout their public service careers with sexual assault survivor advocates to address this public safety issue. When Keller was State Auditor, the office conducted the first ever statewide audit that identified more than 5,000 untested kits in law enforcement agencies and crime labs across New Mexico.

While rape kit backlogs are a problem across the nation, New Mexico has the highest number of untested kits per capita. In New Mexico, one in every four women and one in every 20 men experiences sexual assault in their lifetime and 65% of sexual assault victims are minors.

Providing services to survivors is a critical component to address sexual assault. The Mayor’s proposed budget also allocates $1 million in continued funding of early intervention and prevention programs, domestic violence shelters, domestic violence services, sexual assault services and services to abused, neglected and abandoned youth.

To learn more about why testing rape kits is fundamental to public safety, watch the NBC News documentary “Tackling Albuquerque’s Rape Kit Backlog” here: https://www.nbcnews.com/video/tackling-albuquerque-s-rape-kit-backlog-1171834435891.

Find more information about the public safety priorities in the budget here: https://www.cabq.gov/mayor/news/mayor-keller2019s-budget-prioritizes-public-safety