Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today that the fourth round of untested sexual assault kits identified in the SAFE Kits Initiative inventory have been delivered to the lab from the Columbia Police Department. The kits were gathered at Columbia Police Department as a host agency from neighboring agencies on Tuesday to protect the chain of custody and streamline the process.
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today that the fourth round of untested sexual assault kits identified in the SAFE Kits Initiative inventory have been delivered to the lab from the Columbia Police Department. The kits were gathered at Columbia Police Department as a host agency from neighboring agencies on Tuesday to protect the chain of custody and streamline the process.
“When I was sworn in as Missouri’s Attorney General, one of my top priorities was to clear out the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Missouri. With the crucial inventory completed, my office’s focus is sending these untested kits to the lab to be tested. With the fourth batch of kits already sent off, we’re making tangible progress in tackling this issue,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “I appreciate the Columbia Police Department and Chief Jones for their assistance in sending these kits off to the lab and their dedication to this issue, and I look forward to continuing to work with law enforcement partners across the state.”
"We support survivors of sexual assault and embrace the collaborative efforts to empower them in this process. It is our honor to work with the Attorney General's Office in their efforts to assist other agencies in pursuing justice for these offenses,” said Columbia Police Department Chief Geoff Jones.
Untested sexual assault kits were gathered from departments in mid-Missouri such as the Jefferson City Police Department, the Kirksville Police Department, the Sedalia Police Department, the Ashland Police Department, the Holts Summit Police Department, the Fulton Police Department, the Moberly Police Department, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, the Cole County Sheriff’s Office, and more. In total 18 law enforcement agencies sent 160 kits to the lab.
As we continue to move forward with the SAFE Kits Initiative, major metropolitan departments will serve as host agencies as they have more capacity and inventory space than smaller departments, making them a prime department to gather these untested sexual assault kits from local departments to then send out to the lab.
The SAFE Kits Initiative is using a private lab to ensure that kits are tested expeditiously and to not overwhelm the Missouri State Highway Patrol crime lab with a large influx of kits.
The SAFE Kits Initiative, funded by a grant administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, was launched by Attorney General Schmitt in January of 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.
The results of the inventory were announced in November of 2019 and compiled into a comprehensive report, which stated that there were over 6,800 untested sexual assault kits sitting in a backlog across the state of Missouri (NOTE: 90% of the backlogged kits were untested, NOT 90% of all sexual assault kits in the state of Missouri were or are untested).
The Attorney General’s Office is also currently working on developing an electronic tracking system.