NAMPA, Idaho – Significant progress has been made in working through Idaho’s backlog of rape kits, but several unsubmitted kits remain unprocessed, the head of the state crime lab said.
Some 316 rape kits were completed last year. But 527 kits dating back to 1995 that have not been submitted by police departments must still be analyzed, the Idaho Press-Tribune reported. Idaho State Police Laboratory Systems Director Matthew Gamette said he hopes all of the kits can be completed by the end of next year.
“Even that is going to be a heavy lift,” he said, “because the number of collections from new cases is up dramatically.”
A rape kit is a collection of DNA evidence gathered after a sexual assault. It involves swabbing the victim’s body, clothing and personal items to collect the assailant’s DNA, which could potentially lead to arrests, charges or convictions.
The State Police, along with the FBI, are tasked with testing DNA results from rape kits submitted by local law enforcement agencies across the state.
As far as Gamette knows, Idaho is the only state that has decided to backtrack and process rape kits that had been sitting on law enforcement shelves.
“We will be first in the country to complete all testing statewide,” Gamette said. “Even at that pace, we will be one of the first to complete the process. We are pretty proud of that.”
Gamette said there are currently seven DNA analysts at the state lab, though not all of them are fully trained yet. The lab is going to receive two more DNA analysts and a technician to work the kits next year.
The FBI lab agreed to help with the overburdened state lab staff but is only accepting 185 kits from law enforcement agencies, Gamette said.
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