KBI surveys law enforcement agencies on rape kits

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state’s investigation bureau is trying to determine if Kansas has a backlog of untested sexual assault kits.

Officials say that across the country, hundreds of thousands of sexual assault kits remain untested, The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/1y4TkkF ) reported.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation recently sent surveys to all Kansas law enforcement agencies to identify if there is a testing backlog for the kits, which include swabs and specimens gathered during exams of sexual assault victims. The group’s director, Kirk Thompson, said the state agency doesn’t think there is one in Kansas, but wants to make sure.

“Our goal out of this is to determine the scope of the situation,” he said.

KBI hopes to begin analyzing the survey’s results starting next year.

Thompson said that 66 kits are currently awaiting testing at KBI labs. The bureau has labs that test DNA in Topeka, Kansas City and Great Bend.

Lisa Burdett, DNA technical leader for the KBI, said it takes between two and three hours to test the kit once the bureau receives it. It takes another three to five days to process and analyze the DNA.

The Joyful Heart Foundation is a national nonprofit that’s launched a program aimed at bringing attention to the backlog of rape kits. It said the cost of testing a kit, which can range between $500 and $1,000, has played a role in delays.

The KBI’s decision to send out a survey is a “really good first step,” said Liz Swavola, the Joyful Heart Foundation’s manager of policy and advocacy.

Thompson said if there is a backlog, it will affect the bureau’s operations. But the bureau is dedicated to making sure the testing is complete. It will form a group to help determine proper training and protocols if there’s a backlog issue, he said.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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