SPOKANE, Wash. — With the help of a state grant, the Spokane Police Department is working through a back log of 1,500 untested Sexual Assault kits. Now, the department is nearing completion.
The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Project is funded by a grant from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. SPD started with about 1,500 backlogged sexual assault kits from 2015 and prior that need to be submitted to Washington state patrol labs. They now have about 270 left.
Of the hundreds of kits already tested by SPD, three cases, with a found match, have been or will be charged. Those cases resulted in four total defendants.
"It's fair to say those successes would not come without that program," Detective Zac Storment said.
He is one of two detectives working on the project. Storment said the key components to this success so far are time and technology.
"This grant gave us people and time," Storment said. "It let us remove me and the other detectives from current caseload and focus on this. And really, if that grant wasn't part of this, I don't think that would happen."
Still, with only two people assigned to this project and 1,500 kits to get through, they do face some challenges.
"In this program, one of the most difficult parts about it is the data, managing the data and cops are not very good accountants," Storment said. "But, a lot of what we have to do is keep track of what we do. And not just for accounting sake. It's not just about money or numbers, but so that things aren't lost in the shuffle."
It's a not a quick process, but he said it is still important work.
"Just because it's been a long time doesn't mean we still can't find success in these cases." Storment said. "There is evidence sitting on shelves in some cases that can bring a resolution, but we've just got to find time to dedicate to that effort."
SPD is currently the only agency participating in this grant from WASPC. The grant has been extended through June of next year and SPD expects to near completion by then.
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