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HomeUncategorizedFDLE completes 3-year sexual assault kit project

FDLE completes 3-year sexual assault kit project

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement completed a three-year project to process older sexual assault kits submitted by local law enforcement agencies to FDLE labs following a 2016 Sexual Assault Kit Assessment. 

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 In total, 8,023 sexual assault kits were processed resulting in 1,814 CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) hits.  CODIS enables federal, state and local agencies to compare DNA profiles electronically, linking crimes to each other and known offenders.   

 “Ensuring that law enforcement has the appropriate tools to properly process sexual assault kits in a timely manner is important in helping solve crimes in Florida,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Victims deserve our support, and they should know that under my administration justice will prevail.”

 “This is an extraordinary accomplishment and I am grateful to FDLE and all our law enforcement partners who worked diligently to eliminate the backlog of previously untested sexual assault kits,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “Not only was the backlog eliminated, but procedures were also adopted and advances made in an effort to prevent future backlogs.”

 “I applaud Commissioner Swearingen and his team at FDLE for completing this important project and implementing process improvements to ensure sexual assault kits are processed timely and efficiently,” said CFO Jimmy Patronis. “This DNA data is a vital tool used by our dedicated law enforcement personnel to ensure perpetrators of sexual assault are apprehended, held accountable and victims receive the justice they deserve.”

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 “DNA evidence is critical to solving sexual assault crimes,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried. “Thanks to the dedicated professionals at FDLE, Florida has taken a leap forward in securing justice, helping victims to heal, and holding perpetrators accountable for their despicable actions. Today, a clear message has been sent that time may pass, but justice will be served.”

 “I am proud of our FDLE scientists and law enforcement partners who worked diligently on this project ensuring older sexual assault kits were processed and the results entered into the DNA database,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.  “The more information we have and can share, the stronger the possibility of solving these crimes.”

 “We are in the law enforcement business to protect citizens and enforce the law. Today, the Sheriffs of Florida applaud the efforts of FDLE’s scientists and our fellow law enforcement partners,” said Pinellas County Sheriff and FSA President Bob Gualtieri. “Now that the DNA database has been updated with over 8,000 sexual assault kits, we look forward to solving these crimes and delivering swift justice.”

 “I am very pleased with the work that has been conducted by local law enforcement and FDLE on submitting and processing older sexual assault kits,” said Temple Terrace Police Chief and President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, Chief Kenneth Albano.  “Our Police Chiefs consider sexual assault as one of the most heinous crimes that can be perpetrated on an individual.  We are committed to projects like this, that assist us in getting dangerous and violent criminals off our streets.”

 “Victims of sexual assault who choose to get a forensic exam not only want justice for themselves, they want to ensure that their assailant isn’t going to remain free to assault someone else,” said Florida Council Against Sexual Violence Executive Director Jennifer Dritt. “FDLE’s processing of more than 8,000 previously unsubmitted rape kits in three years is remarkable, and gives hope to victims of a crime that has made their bodies evidence.”

 “I am extremely proud of our work to ensure that the State of Florida put an end to the sexual assault kit backlog,” said Florida Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto. “During the last three years over 8,000 previously untested rape kits were tested across the state.   The results of many of those tests could lead to justice for attackers and closure for victims. We have also seen over the last three years that based on the clearance of the backlog that multiple cold case arrests have been made. I thank the FDLE for their hard work to ensure this project was carried out and that new kits are tested within 120 days of being submitted.  Victims no longer have to fear that their rape kit will sit on a shelf while their attacker walks the street.” 

 Attached are the agencies who submitted sexual assault kits as part of this project and the DNA hits associated with this evidence.  Not all hits are actionable.  An “actionable hit” is a match to the DNA database that provides new information to the investigation.

 Local law enforcement agencies submitted these sexual assault kits starting in 2015 through June 2019.  Not all local law enforcement agencies submit their evidence to FDLE labs.  Some Florida agencies use private labs or have their own lab systems.

 To see the 2016 Sexual Assault Kit Assessment visit: http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/docs/SAKResults.pdf

Florida Sexual Assault Kit Project
Frequently Asked Questions
September 2019

Background
When and why did this project start?

 The 2015 Legislature asked FDLE to conduct a statewide assessment of unanalyzed sexual assault kits. FDLE surveyed sheriff offices and municipal police departments statewide to identify the number of unanalyzed kits in their possession.  We reported our findings from the assessment in January 2016. The assessment can be found here:
http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/docs/SAKResults.pdf.

 The assessment identified 6,661 sexual assault kits in jurisdictions served by FDLE labs.  In addition, approximately 2,000 older kits had been submitted to FDLE labs prior to the assessment. 

 This estimated total of 8,600 was referred to as “the sexual assault kit backlog.”  Legislative funding, federal grant funds, and a grant from the District Attorney of NY were used to outsource SAKs to private labs for processing. SAKs were also processed in house.  We estimated that it would take three years to clear this backlog. 

What was considered a backlogged sexual assault kit for this project?

 The sexual assault kits considered part of the backlog had offense dates prior to July 1 2016 and at least a 90-day gap between the offense date and lab submission date. 

How did this work?

 Local law enforcement agencies, who submit their evidence to FDLE, began submitting older sexual assault kits to FDLE in 2015.  While FDLE did process some kits in house, the majority were sent to private labs for processing.  Once the private labs returned the results, FDLE scientists completed reviews on the data and reports and uploaded eligible DNA profiles into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).

How many sexual assault kits were completed as part of this project? How many hits were made?

 From 2015 through June 2019, more than 8,000 sexual assault kits were processed.  More than 1,800 CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) hits were made.  A hit is made when DNA evidence is matched to a sample in the DNA database. The database profile may be from an offender, arrestee, or another forensic sample. 

Does Florida have any additional older sexual assault kits that should be submitted?

Because of the willingness of Florida law enforcement agencies to participate in this program, we believe the majority of older sexual assault kits that should have been submitted to a lab for processing, have been submitted.

 While this project is complete, we continue to urge our law enforcement partners to submit older sexual assault kits if they identify more that should be submitted. FDLE will process them with our normal workload.

Were any crimes solved as part of the initiative?

 Local law enforcement agencies that received hits will know whether or not any crimes were solved as a result of this initiative. We provide hit information back to the local agencies, but they don’t report back to us regarding the progress of their case.

To see the 2016 Sexual Assault Kit Assessment visit: http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/docs/SAKResults.pdf

 

For Further Information Contact:
Gretl Plessinger, Jessica Cary or Jeremy Burns
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001

 

 

 

 

Leslie Stein
Leslie Stein
Leslie Stein has over 35 years experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist working with neurologically impaired adults. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of South Florida in Speech Pathology.
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