Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today that 100 untested sexual assault kits were shipped from Grandview Police Department and Lee's Summit Police Department. 50 kits were shipped from both police departments respectively, and measures were taken at both events to protect participants in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic.
“Despite these uncertain times, the Attorney General’s Office is dedicated to ensuring these kits continue to be shipped to the lab for testing," said Attorney General Schmitt. “I appreciate both the Grandview and Lee's Summit Police Departments for working together with our office on this important initiative."
“The Grandview Police Department appreciates the Attorney’s General’s Office for its partnership and coordination on the SAFE Kits initiative," said Captain Richard Rodgers, Commander - Operations Division, Grandview Police Department.
At each collection event since the pandemic started, measures have been taken to protect participants. At the collection event at Grandview Police Department, each participant wore a face mask and practiced social distancing. At the collection event at Lee's Summit, the main area was closed to the public, allowing participants to spread out when collecting and shipping the kits to the lab.
At the last collection event at the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, a drive through service was provided, giving participants the option not to leave their cars to drop off kits.
So far, including yesterday’s shipment, 596 untested sexual assault kits have been sent to the lab to be tested as part of the SAFE Kit Initiative.
In addition to Wednesday's shipping event, shipping events have been held at the police departments in Springfield, Columbia, St. Joseph, Blue Springs, and Joplin, and at the Camden 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.
Video from the launch of the initiative can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFEcYsSgcbg.