MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A new $2 million dollar grant will address sexual assault kit testing, victim advocacy, and investigations.
This Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant was awarded by the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs. It will go to several branches to address the issue of untested kits: the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, Alexandra House, and the Office of Justice Programs.
In 2015, an inventory found 3,482 sexual assault kits at local law enforcement agencies that had not been submitted to a forensic laboratory for testing. The Minnesota Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Project began three years later, when the Office of Justice Programs received its first $2 million grant. Since then, the BCA has received over 250 previously un-submitted kits from local law enforcement agencies for testing.
“Testing these kits will, in some cases, result in new information that can inform investigations and may bridge gaps in justice,” said BCA Superintendent Drew Evans.
The BCA will receive the largest portion of the grant: about two-thirds of the funds. The estimated $1,332,295 will go towards test kit track data and assist local agencies with case investigations. The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault will receive roughly $317,265 to coordinate a multidisciplinary team and protocol development.
The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office will receive $219,020 for case investigations and investigation protocol development. Alexandra House, a survivor service provider, will receive roughly 109,749 for victim notification and advocacy services. The Office of Justice Programs will receive $21,671 to manage the grant funding.
Kits from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office inventory are tested first under the 2018 grant. Under both grants, funding is provided for laboratory supplies and four BCA forensic scientists who test kits identified during the 2015 inventory.