SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Attorney General Eric Schmitt announces the first batch of decades-old safe kits will soon be tested.
Since the attorney general’s safe kits initiative launched last year, the inventory phase showed there were over 6,000 untested kits.
The inventory phase then moved to the tracking phase where law enforcement was able to track untested kits.
Schmitt answered a few questions about the untested safe kits and where they are now.
Take me through what’s happening with untested safe kits – “When I came into office last year, we made removing the backlog of these untested sexual assault kits a priority. Over last year, after the announcement of the Safe Kits Initiative, we completed the inventory phase. The inventory phase showed that there were over 6,000 untested sexual assault kits out there across Missouri, which is a shocking number. Then we moved towards the tracking phase, which is a system where law enforcement and victims can track where the kit is.
We’ve now moved on to the first round of getting these untested kits collected and sent off to private labs for testing. It was announced today that the first batch of those kits would be collected at the Springfield Police Department, from neighboring law enforcement agencies and sent off to a lab for testing. I think it’s a big day for victims. It certainly signals our commitment to this initiative and honors the courage of the victims who’ve come forward
The Safe Kits Initiative was just launched last year. Did you expect it to move this fast? – “We made it a priority. I mean, this is one of the key initiatives in our office. When you are confronted with the reality of these untested kits sitting on shelves somewhere, and victims who have been waiting for justice to be delivered, it certainly is a motivation for us to fight for those victims.”
How many rape kits do you expect will be tested? – “We’re sending over a hundred out as they’re collected today.”
Why do you think these rape kits were never tested in the past? – “I think there’s a variety of reasons, but we’ve focused on what we can do right now. Looking backward doesn’t bring justice to these victims. We want to move as expeditiously as we can to get these kits tested because there will probably be some prosecutions that follow.”
What do backlogs mean?– “That means the number of kits that have sat on shelves and not been tested. If a kit goes to the lab now, there’s not a backlog for those current kits. For several years, they were not being collected and sent off for testing, and that’s the heart of this effort is to figure out where those are all at, and then move forward with the testing phase
How long can it take to get a rape kit tested? – “It takes months for the testing to occur.”
Will this be sent to only one private lab, or what’s the plan? – “The kits that are collected today will be sent to one private lab. That lab will be kept anonymous.”