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Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Backlog Reduction Project

Information about the Rape Kit Backlog or Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

Victim Resources

The Albuquerque SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) serves sexual assault and domestic violence victims by providing immediate, compassionate, culturally sensitive, and comprehensive medical treatment, forensic evaluation, and kit status by nurse experts 24 hours a day.

The Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) Backlog Reduction Project was created to test previously unsubmitted SAEKs, commonly referred to as rape kits or the rape kit backlog, that have accumulated for years. This project will not only submit for testing thousands of SAEKs, but also focus on policy development and change, training, following up on investigative leads, prosecuting eligible cases, enable better reporting of crimes, outreach for the victim notification process, strengthening victim services, and eliminating the possibility of a future backlog.

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. As former state auditor, Mayor Keller conducted the first statewide audit of the backlog that identified over 5,000 untested kits across the state, 75 percent of which were in Albuquerque. While rape kit backlogs are a problem across the nation, New Mexico has the highest number of untested kits per capita. As Mayor, Keller signed an executive order calling on APD to create a comprehensive plan for clearing the backlog, including funding streams. The City is now on track to clear the backlog by the end of 2020.

The causes for the Albuquerque Police Department’s high number of unsubmitted SAEKs is consistent with national reasons: insufficient funding for laboratory personnel, inadequate infrastructure of computerized database and tracking systems, and a long-standing history of testing SAEKs only as requested by the District Attorney’s Office for cases going to trial.

In 2017, The City of Albuquerque was awarded a grant of $2,499,796 from the Office of Justice Programs National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) to assist in the testing of a specific subset of previously unsubmitted SAEKs. The City has allocated additional funding from other sources and the Mayor’s budget 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, and neglected and abandoned youth.

The implementation of The Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Backlog Reduction Project is the first step to correcting oversights and changing the course of action for the future. The plan, workload, collaborations, and education gained in the project point to progress for our community.

Victim Notification

The Albuquerque Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Collaborative (SANE) worked with agency partners in its effort to create a victim-centered protocol for providing notification to survivors of the status of their backlogged sexual assault evidence kits; whether their kit has already been tested, is in the process of testing, or waiting to be tested.

In April of 2018, Mayor Tim Keller and SANE announced the Sexual Assault Information Line, 1-866-613-SAIL (7245), to help victims of sexual assault retain information regarding their pending cases. SANE will be able to access information regarding testing statuses through Albuquerque Police Department and the New Mexico Department of Public Safety databases.

SANE serves sexual assault and domestic violence victims by providing immediate, compassionate, culturally sensitive, and comprehensive medical treatment and forensic evaluation by nurse experts, providing victims of sexual assault and domestic violence care in an empowering setting that addresses emotional, and medical needs. All care is comprehensive, timely, and patient centered and always confidential, free, and available 24 hours a day.

Contact SANE online at abqSANE.org, by phone at 1-866-613-7245 (SAIL), or by email at [email protected]

Albuquerque Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Response Team (ASERT)

In January of 2017, the Albuquerque City Council passed Resolution R-16-140 which required the development of a multidisciplinary team to "meet quarterly to assess the progress of processing the backlogged sexual assault evidence kits and to make recommendations for quickly clearing the backlog."

ASERT is made up of members from the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, APD, the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and community partners such as SANE, the Rape Crisis Center of Central NM, and the Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs and has been meeting monthly since May 2017.

A jpeg of One Albuqerque Mayors Office logo.A jpeg of One Albuquerque APD logo.A jpeg of BCSO Bernalillo County Sheriffs Office logo. A jpeg of SAKI Sexual Assault Kit Initiative logo. A jpeg of SANE Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners logo. A jpeg of RCCNM Rape Crisis Center of New Mexico logo.A jpeg of BERNCO DA Bernalillo County District Attorney logo.

Mayor Tim Keller's Executive Order to Clear the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Backlog

On January 17, 2018, Mayor Tim Keller signed an Executive Order calling for APD to collaborate with the ASERT to develop a comprehensive plan addressing the backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits (SAEKs) in APD's possession that originated prior to January 1, 2017 and ensure that a new backlog of untested SAEKs does not develop. The full executive order is available here.

ASERT is supported by Mayor Tim Keller's administration and has developed a detailed plan in response to the Executive Order. ASERT’s full plan to ensure forensic testing of previously untested SAEKs is completed is available here.

Backlogged Sexual Assault Evidence Kits Outsourced for Testing

The following numbers indicate the dates and number of backlogged sexual assault evidence kits (SAEKs) sent for DNA testing by APD's Crime Lab to private forensic laboratories.

Date Number of SAEKs sent for Testing
2017 170
Feb. 2018 224
Mar. 2018 205
April 2018 200
May 2018 199
June 2018 215
July 2018 199
Aug. 2018 127
Sept. 2018 121
Oct. 2018 139
Nov. 2018 137
Dec. 2018 210
Jan. 2019 203
Feb. 2019 251
Mar. 2019 171
Apr. 2019 171
May 2019 164
Total 3,106

APD Crime Lab's Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Inventory

The entire inventory of sexual assault evidence kits (SAEKs) is made up of backlog inventory collected by the evidence warehouse between January 1, 1981 and September 30, 2018, and a separate inventory that is not considered backlog collected after October 1, 2018.

All backlog inventory is categorized as the "Master Inventory" which is divided into two other categories: "Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Inventory" and "Post-SAKI Inventory." SAEKs collected after October 1, 2018 are categorized as "R-16-143 Inventory."

*Non-reported SAEKs are not to be tested without victim consent and formal reporting to law enforcement.

A jpeg of SAEK Inventory Timeline.

Information on Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Inventory by Category

Click to view definitions and information on each SAEK inventory as of December 12, 2018.

Master Inventory Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Post-SAKI Inventory R-16-143 Inventory

Master Inventory

The Master Inventory is defined as all sexual assault evidence kits (SAEKs) collected between January 1, 1981 and September 30, 2018 which have been inventoried in APD’s Evidence Warehouse. A final inventory of SAEKs that reside in APD’s Evidence Unit currently yields 6,204.

Master Inventory of Backlogged SAEKs in APD Warehouse 01/01/1981 - 09/30/2018 APD BCSO Total
Tested 3,745 286 4,031
Remaining 1,504 345 1,849
Total 5,249 632 5,880
*Non-Reported Master Inventory Backlogged SAEKs in APD Warehouse 01/01/1981 - 09/30/2018  
Total 781

Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Inventory - Part of Master Inventory

Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) cases are defined as any sexual assault evidence kit (SAEK) collected between January 1, 1981 and March 2, 2017. This includes SAEKs submitted by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO). For reporting purposes, this subset of inventory is referred to as the “SAKI Backlog”.

On September 29, 2017, the City of Albuquerque was awarded $2,499,796 from the Office of Justice Programs FY17 National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative: Comprehensive Approach to Unsubmitted Sexual Assault Kits Grant. This money will be utilized to test approximately 4,000 previously unsubmitted SAEKs, follow up on investigative leads, strengthen victim services through victim notification, and prosecute eligible cases. The City of Albuquerque has also allocated additional funding from other sources to work to end the backlog of the unsubmitted SAEKs.

SAKI Inventory Backlogged SAEKs in APD Warehouse 01/01/1981 - 03/02/2017 APD BCSO Total
Tested 3,388 266 3,654
Remaining 1,504 320 1,824
Total 4,892 586 5,478
*Non-Reported SAKI Inventory Backlogged SAEKs in APD Warehouse 01/01/1981 - 03/02/2017  
Total 650

This project was partially supported by Grant No. 2017-AK-BX-0007 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Post-SAKI Inventory - Part of Master Inventory

Post-SAKI Inventory is defined as any sexual assault evidence kit (SAEK) collected between March 3, 2017 and September 31, 2018.

The City of Albuquerque, APD, BCSO, and the APD Crime Lab recognize the additional backlog of kits that reside within the warehouse which are not eligible for testing, investigation, and prosecution under the SAKI Grant. Post-SAKI Inventory SAEKs are being tested, investigated, and prosecuted utilizing various additional funding sources secured by the City of Albuquerque.

Post-SAKI Inventory of Backlogged SAEKs in APD Warehouse 03/02/2017 - 09/30/2018 APD BCSO Total
Tested 357 20 377
Remaining 0 25 25
Total 357 45 402
*Non-Reported Post-SAKI Inventory Backlogged SAEKs in APD Warehouse 03/02/2017 - 09/30/2018  
Total 131

R-16-143 Inventory - Independent from Master Inventory

R-16-143 Inventory is defined as any sexual assault evidence kit (SAEK) collected after October 1, 2018.

Per City Council Resolution R-16-143, The Albuquerque Police Department is to provide justice to victims of sexual assault by establishing time frames and practices for processing SAEKs.

APD will submit evidence from a sexual assault case SAEK within ten business days to the APD Evidence Warehouse. The APD Crime Lab, or a laboratory approved and designated by the Chief of Police, shall analyze the evidence contained in the SAEK within three months of submission to the Evidence Unit.

Previous Data