San Francisco

In 2010, San Francisco's then-Mayor Gavin Newsom signed an ordinance requiring the Police Department to develop and implement procedures to collect all rape kits within 72 hours and test them within 14 days of receipt. As part of its annual budget submission, the Department is to report to city officials on its performance in meeting those goals.    

In terms of funding, the ordinance mandated that the city and county "appropriate sufficient funds each fiscal year for the Police Department to maintain the personnel and other resources necessary to ensure timely collection and testing of DNA evidence in sexual assault cases." It also established the Police DNA Testing in Sexual Assault Cases Account for the purpose of receiving city funds, grant funds and donations for rape kit testing.

Despite this comprehensive legislation, however, a local news reporter discovered in May 2013 that there were 196 untested kits dating back to 2009 and 2010, before the ordinance took effect, at the San Francisco Police Department. The Department reviewed those cases and conducted an audit to determine whether there were additional untested kits from before 2009. 

In total, the audit uncovered 753 untested rape kits from 2003 to 2013. The Department will send those kits to a private lab for testing to prevent a backlog at its own lab. The audit also revealed "several thousand" older kits that the Department refuses to test because the statute of limitations has passed in those cases. 

Going forward, the Department's policy will be to test all newly collected kits, rather than just those where the identity of the perpetrator is unknown. 

Learn more about San Francisco's reforms and read about its efforts in the media here.


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