Over 82% of Missouri law enforcement agencies eliminate sexual assault evidence backlogs

(The Center Square) – More than 82% of Missouri’s law enforcement agencies no longer have a backlog of Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) kits, according to a 105-page report by Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

Earlier this year, Schmitt announced the completion of a $5.5 million program to clear a backlog of 3,298 untested, unreported sexual assault kits to laboratories for testing. A report released Tuesday found 493 out of 599 law enforcement agencies in the state had no backlog of kits.

“One of my first actions as Attorney General was to launch the SAFE Kit Initiative to clear the backlog of untested kits across the state of Missouri,” Schmitt said in a statement. “Since then, thanks to the dedication and hard work of Judge M. Keithley Williams and her team, the SAFE Kit Initiative has made major strides in working towards that goal. My office will continue to work to ensure that we honor the courage of victims who came forward to report these heinous crimes by bringing offenders out of the shadows and off of the streets.”

Schmitt is the Republican nominee in the race for the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and faces Democrat nominee Trudy Busch Valentine in November.

Schmitt’s office received a federal grant to conduct an inventory of the kits in 2018 and 2020. A combination of state and federal funding paid for testing of a total of 3,478 kits, which is approximately 70% of the untested, reported kits identified in both inventories. In addition to law enforcement agencies, the initiative also conducted inventories of kits at 126 health care providers throughout the state.

Missouri is one of 26 states funded by the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, a nationwide program led by the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice.

The kits resulted in a total of 254 “hits” of DNA profile matches with a previous offender in the FBI’s indexing system, according to the report. No DNA was found in approximately 35% of the kits. There was enough DNA in 38% of the kits to add them to the FBI’s index system; 27% of the DNA results wasn’t entered as it was associated with the victim, consensual partners or it didn’t meet the standard for entering the DNA into the system.

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