Salt Lake City Takes Initiative to End its Backlog

The Salt Lake City Police Department has recently launched the “Code R Kit Project” to review the more than 700 untested rape kits in its custody, the oldest kit being from 1987. Fox13 reports that four detectives have been assigned to this project to go over every case and publicly report why the kit was not sent for testing. The officers will now submit any rape kit that they believe should have been tested to the crime lab. 

In explaining the importance of rape kit testing, survivor Tiffany Thorne said, "Every single kit is going to be one person, four to six hours, where they have their body treated purely like a crime scene and that’s really devastating. It was for me.” 

So far, the officers have reviewed 20 cases and posted their findings on the Salt Lake City Police Department’s website. In order to protect survivors' privacy, they do not include any identifying information. Unfortunately, the officers have recommended testing in just one of those cases. 

Of this new initiative, Sargent Robin Heiden said, “If we can solve one of those cases, if one of them needed to be sent back and we send it back and were able to solve it, then it makes it all worth it.” Alana Kindness, Executive Director of Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, added, "I think it demonstrates a desire to be open and clear and demonstrate to the public that these cases and the victims of these cases are folks that the department cares about." 

- By Sophia Schrager, June 18, 2014

ENDTHEBACKLOG is a program of the Joyful Heart Foundation to shine a light on the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the United States. Our goal is to end this injustice by conducting groundbreaking research identifying the extent of the nation’s backlog and best practices for eliminating it, expanding the national dialogue on rape kit testing through increased public awareness, engaging communities and government agencies and officials and advocating for comprehensive rape kit reform legislation and policies at the local, state and federal levels. We urge you to learn more about the backlog, where it exists and why it matters. We invite you to take action and support efforts to test rape kits. Help us send the message that we must take rape seriously.

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