SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– During meetings with two of Springfield’s resources for victims of sexual assault, Mercy Hospital and Springfield Police, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt addressed what he considers one of the state’s biggest issues: the backlog of untested rape kits.
During his time in Springfield, he spoke with Special Victim’s Unit investigators, Sexual Assault Nursing Examiner’s and other people working to bring justice to those impacted by sexual assault.
The topic of conversation: The SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Exam) Kit Initiative, a program designed to tackle that backlog of rape kits, launched in February of 2019.
Schmitt told reporters step one of his plan is to build an inventory and get a grasp on just how much work his office, medical professionals, and law enforcement have ahead of them.
A lot of Schmitt’s work is made possible by a $2 million dollar grant awarded to the state of Missouri by the U.S. Department of Justice.
ORIGINAL STORY: Focusing on sexual assault kits, Missouri AG schedules meeting with Springfield PD
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Wednesday he’d be paying a visit to Springfield. While in town, Schmitt has two scheduled stops: Mercy Hospital and the Springfield Police Department.
Mercy, his first stop, will provide a tour of it’s SANE (Sexual Assault Nursing Examiner) facilities, and later host a discussion with the Mercy nursing staff about the success of it’s SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Exam) kit Initiative.
After touring the hospital, Attorney General Schmitt is set to stop at the Springfield’s Police Department.
There, the AG plans to tour the SPD facilities and discuss the success of the SAFE Kit Initiative with SPD’s Special Victim’s Unit investigators.
Back in November, an extensive CNN article (which you can read by clicking here) spotlighted the Springfield Police Department, calling out the department’s destruction of rape kits.
Reporters reviewed nearly 200 investigations in which Springfield police destroyed rape kits since 2010. In at least 108, the kits were destroyed before the statutes of limitations expired or when there was no time limit to prosecute the crimes.-CNN, WHERE POLICE FAILED RAPE VICTIMS
Since the publication of that article, the Springfield Police Department, led by Chief Paul Williams, has made a public effort to become more “victim-centered”.
Less than a month after the publication of the CNN article, Springfield Police met with members of local Me Too chapter to brainstorm best practices.
One of the first changes stemming from those meetings was to the Springfield Police Department website (which you can see by clicking here). Today that website has a “Victim’s Resources” tab on the front page.
Today’s meeting with AG Eric Schmitt could be the next opportunity for Springfield PD to open up about it’s progress since that CNN report.
This is a developing story.