The Mobile Police Department has been awarded a $1.9 million grant from the Department of Justice to support its sexual assault kit testing, tracking and investigations. Receiving the grant for the third time, the funds will aid in solving crimes of sexual violence and reducing backlogs of sexual assault evidence.
The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) provides competitive grants for teams committed to reforming how their jurisdictions deal with cases of sexual assault. Last year, the Mobile Police Department created a coordinated community response with the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office and Lifelines Counseling Services/The Rape Crisis Center to ensure just resolution to sexual assault cases. Their efforts established The Promise Initiative, which uses a comprehensive victim-centered and trauma-informed approach to address the handling of sexual assault kits.
Through The Promise Initiative, the agencies work together to support the investigation and prosecution of cases for which sexual assault kits were previously un-submitted while aiming to prevent high numbers of un-submitted sexual assault kits in the future. Together, they serve to help link victims to advocates and needed services.
During the 2015 grant year, a total of 741 sexual assault kits were determined to need testing or retesting with current technology. Of that number, 578 kits have been submitted for testing, as of September 2017. So far there has been 323 ADFS test reports received back with 77 CODIS hits to a suspect or where crime scene evidence is indicated. The number of remaining kits being reviewed for testing is 315.
Aside from the $828,230 SAKI grant received in 2015, the department was awarded $118,000 in 2016 for renovation of the Mobile Police Department Evidence Room. The funds received this year are for the creation of a Special Victims Unit and Family Justice Center for victims of sexual assault.
Anyone who may have an untested sexual assault kit at the Mobile Police Department is asked to call The Promise Initiative at 251-431-5100 ext. 226.