Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced that an untested sexual assault kit shipping event took place at the Cape Girardeau Police Department on Thursday of last week. In total, 40 kits were gathered and shipped from the Cape Girardeau Police Department and neighboring departments.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Attorney General's Office is still working diligently to ensure that untested sexual assault kits are continually sent to the lab to be tested, and I appreciate our law enforcement partners and the Cape Girardeau Police Department for their help on this important initiative," said Attorney General Schmitt.
“We were honored to have had the opportunity to offer our department and its resources as the logistical host agency to further promote the completion of this mission. It is extremely important to us, at the Cape Girardeau Police Department, that we exhaust all avenues of approach to determine the identities of the responsible perpetrators so that justice may prevail for victim(s) of sexual violence," said Corporal Orrin Hawkins of the Cape Girardeau Police Department.
At each collection event since the pandemic started, measures have been taken to protect participants.
In addition to Thursday’s shipping event, shipping events have been held at the police departments in Lee's Summit, Grandview, Springfield, Columbia, St. Joseph, Blue Springs, and Joplin, and at the Camden County Sheriff's Office and the Cass County Sheriff's Office.
The Attorney General's Office has also been in contact with the lab in Virginia that processes the results of the untested sexual assault kits submitted through the SAFE Kits Initiative, and each step of the testing chain is continuing at normal pace. The lab has been deemed an essential business, and Marshall University, which conducts technical review of the lab results, are also continuing to work at normal pace. No slowdown in testing is expected, and the previous timeline should hold.
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.