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rape kits

Photo of an evidence bag.
Renee Bright / KUER

After Utah lawmakers approved a bill in 2017 that gave more money to the state’s crime lab to process sexual assault kits, the head of that lab estimated it could clear the backlog of untested kits in 2018. Now, the Department of Public Safety said it will take until July 2020 to get caught up.

Photo of Police Chief Mike Brown
Erik Neumann / KUER

Officials from the Salt Lake City Police Department announced today that they had cleared a 10-year backlog of sexual assault evidence known as “rape kits.”  

iStock

Today, Utah becomes the second state in the Mountain West to implement a system that lets victims check the status of their rape kits online.  

STEVANOVICIGOR VIA WWW.ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

For a victim of sexual assault, waiting for an update on his or her case can be a painful process on its own. But a new hotline in Utah, might help put them at ease.

stevanovicigor via www.istockphoto.com

A bill that would require all sexual assault kits in the state be tested passed unanimously Friday in the Utah House of Representatives. 

Julia Ritchey, KUER


A Utah lawmaker is drafting a bill that would mandate the testing of all rape kits collected from victims of sexual assault, including a backlog at the state’s crime lab.

Brigham Young University

A Brigham Young University researcher says she has found significant bias in how Utah law enforcement decide to submit rape kits for testing.

Why Aren't All Rape Kits Tested?

Oct 21, 2014
Tim Slover

The Salt Lake City Council met with law enforcement officials yesterday to continue discussing the possibility of mandatory testing of all rape kits in the possession of the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Amid questions of how much it would cost to test every rape kit, and how long it would take to do so, the issue of exactly why all rape kits aren’t tested emerged. Sergeant Derek Christenson oversees the special 

victims unit of the Salt Lake City Police. He says that rape kits aren’t always necessary if the perpetrator admits to the encounter.    

The Salt Lake City council is prepared to pass an ordinance requiring the Police Department send every sexual assault evidence kit in its custody to a lab for testing. 

Here, in this quiet space, no larger than typical college classroom, DNA-soaked cotton swabs hang from clothes pins and photos of crime-scene evidence dress the walls. Jay Henry is Director of the Utah State Crime Lab. He says this is where DNA evidence collected in the aftermath of a sexual assault, also known as Code R kits are tested.

Whittney Evans

The Salt Lake City Police Department has formally signed on to partner with a national research organization and the U.S. Department of Justice to establish nationwide standards for handling sexual assault cases. 

shahram sharif via Wikimedia Commons

The Salt Lake City Council has agreed to move forward with a proposal to require all sexual assault evidence kits in the Salt Lake City Police Department’s custody be tested. The decision comes despite objections from Police Chief Chris Burbank.

The city council made it clear at its Tuesday night work session that it wants more from the Salt Lake City Police Department—more information, more processing of evidence, more transparency and more cooperation.

Photo of Salt Lake City Police Car.
Brett Neilson via Wikimedia Commons

Over the weekend Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank announced his department has been selected to undergo a federal review of how it handles sexual assault cases.

The Police Detective Research Forum and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women will conduct the review. Salt Lake City is one of four police departments nationwide to be selected. Police Detective Greg Wilking says it’s expected to take about a year to complete but there is no definitive deadline.

shahram sharif via Wikimedia Commons

Utah lawmakers were at the state capitol today discussing how to deal with thousands of untested rape in the state. They heard from law enforcement, victim advocates and the state crime lab. But there’s still no consensus on whether all the kits actually need to be tested.