Two SAFE Kit Initiative shipping events were held at the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Office and New Madrid County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Each shipping event gathered untested sexual assault kits from neighboring agencies to then send to the private lab to be tested.
“Sending these kits to the lab to be tested is a top priority of my office, and we’re moving as expeditiously as we can to move through the backlog," said Attorney General Schmitt. “Additionally, none of this would be possible without the help of our law enforcement partners, and I want to thank the St. Francois County Sheriff's Office and the New Madrid County Sheriff's Office for their help on this important initiative.”
"We were honored to be part of such a valuable endeavor. We felt it was an opportunity to pay it forward since a similar program had solved a 20 year old double homicide of a mother and daughter that occurred in our county, and was one of the highest profile cases this office had been involved in," said Captain Bud Cooper of the New Madrid County Sheriff's Office.
In total, 30 untested sexual assault kits were gathered and shipped from the St. Francois County Sheriff's Office and 52 kits were gathered and shipped from the New Madrid County Sheriff's Office.
In addition to Wednesday and Thursday’s shipping events, shipping events have been held at the police departments in O’Fallon, 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.