Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced that a shipping event for the SAFE Kit Initiative was held in Cass County yesterday. In total, 40 kits were gathered from neighboring agencies and shipped to the lab from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.
“Ensuring that untested sexual assault kits continue to be shipped and tested throughout this pandemic is a top priority of the Attorney General's Office, and our staff and law enforcement partners have been working diligently to ensure that shipping and testing remains on track," said Attorney General Schmitt. "I appreciate Sheriff Weber and the Cass County Sheriff's Office for their hard work in getting these untested sexual assault kits shipped to the lab."
"I would like to thank Attorney General Eric Schmitt and his team for their work on this project, it has been a model of interagency cooperation. I would also like to recognize my staff for the great work they do every day to Keep Cass County Safe,” said Sheriff Jeff Weber.
As was done with previous shipping events, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office served as a gathering hub for neighboring departments, which included the Belton Police Department, Harrisonville Police Department, Pleasant Hill Police Department, Raymore Police Department and Bates County Sheriff’s Department. Untested sexual assault kits were gathered and shipped this afternoon.
At each collection event since the pandemic started, measures have been taken to protect participants.
In addition to yesterday’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.
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.