- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Half of the sexual assault kits stored by Grand Rapids police were not given to state police for DNA testing, according to records obtained by WOOD-TV.

The state Attorney General’s office asked Grand Rapids police to sort through its kits, some of which dated back 15 years. Documents reveal 199 out of 403 rape kits held as evidence were untested, the television station reported (https://bit.ly/1kgPz92 ).

The police department will have to examine each case to make sure there were no oversights in getting them tested, Grand Rapids Sgt. Steve Labrecque said.

The untested kits may have had no value as evidence due to confessions or false reports and were not needed, he added.

“I would have no reason to suspect we just forgot almost 200 cases,” Labrecque said.

Police departments across the country have been struggling to catch up on rape kit testing.

About 11,300 kits were found in 2009 in a Detroit police property storage facility. More than 10,000 have since been tested and nearly 550 suspected serial sexual offenders have been identified.

But finding funds to do the testing has been a chore in Detroit and other cities.

Federal grants paid for the testing of the first 2,000 Detroit kits. The state then chipped in $4 million to test 8,000 kits and $3 million to the Attorney General’s office to help in prosecutions.

Groups also have been helping raise $10 million from private donors and nonprofit organizations.

An estimated 70,000 kits across the country will be tested with a combined $79 million in federal and New York City funds designed to cut the backlog of untested DNA evidence in 27 states.

Michigan law now requires police in the state to obtain a rape-evidence box from a health care facility within 14 days of being notified. Police have 14 more days to submit the DNA to a lab, where it generally must be analyzed within 90 days.

“This is just another step where the public can be assured we are doing, and other agencies are doing, what we’re supposed to be doing,” Labrecque said.


Information from: WOOD-TV, https://www.woodtv.com

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