KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new approach may solve a problem the state of Missouri’s been fighting for years.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt acknowledges there are thousands of sexual assault kits sitting in evidence lockers at police stations and in storage at hospitals across the state.
It’s an issue FOX4’s been following for years. In 2015, a FOX4 investigation uncovered more than 1,300 untested rape kits in storage at the KCMO Police Department. Last year, an audit by the Missouri Attorney General’s office found 5,400 untested kits across the state.
When asked, Schmitt said that might not be an accurate number either. According to Schmitt, only 40 percent of police departments and hospitals responded to last year’s audit.
“These kits are not just numbers. They’re not just foot notes in reporting crimes. Instead, they represent real human beings,” Schmitt said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Schmitt announced the creation of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. He named Missouri Judge M. Keithley Williams as its state coordinator.
A $2.8 million grant will be used to test some of the thousands of backlogged sexual assault kits. The remainder of the grant will be used to develop an electronic tracking system.
“Hopefully that will stop backlogs from developing. At least it would certainly give victims what they need to check on their own kit,” Williams said. “Missouri is behind many other states.”
But officials say it will likely take several years to clear the backlog of untested kits.
“We’re gonna work to get this done. Victims deserve justice,” Schmitt said.
The attorney general said he will use the test results to track down and prosecute as many criminals as possible.