The third batch of untested sexual assault kits identified by Missouri Attorney General Schmitt’s SAFE Kits Initiative inventory have been delivered to a private lab for testing. The kits were gathered at the St. Joseph Police Department as a “host agency” and sent directly to the private lab to preserve the chain of custody and streamline the process.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - The third batch of untested sexual assault kits identified by Missouri Attorney General Schmitt’s SAFE Kits Initiative inventory have been delivered to a private lab for testing. The kits were gathered at the St. Joseph Police Department as a “host agency” and sent directly to the private lab to preserve the chain of custody and streamline the process.
“Working with our law enforcement partners, including Chief Connally and the St. Joseph Police Department, is crucial to delivering untested sexual assault kits to the lab to be tested as expeditiously as possible. Now that our inventory is completed, getting these untested sexual assault kits tested is a crucial step in the SAFE Kits Initiative to potentially bring offenders to justice. Thank you to Chief Connally and his staff at the St. Joseph Police Department for their time and effort on this important issue,” said Attorney General Schmitt.
“SAFE Kit testing has been an issue here and across the country for many years, we appreciate the opportunity to work with Attorney General Schmitt and his staff on the SAFE Kits Initiative in Northwest Missouri,” said Chief Connally.
As was previously done in Springfield and Joplin, Missouri Attorney General Schmitt and St. Joseph Police Department Chief Chris Connally announced that untested sexual assault kits identified in the inventory phase of the SAFE Kits Initiative were gathered from remote departments at the St. Joseph Police Department and sent to a private lab to be tested.
Untested sexual assault kits were gathered from remote departments like Riverside Police Department, Maryville Police Department, Brookfield Police Department, Hamilton Police Department, as well as several Sheriff’s Offices. In total, 127 untested sexual assault kits were sent to the lab to be tested.
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 next anticipated host agency will be the Columbia Police Department.
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.