Police set up phone line and email to aid in investigations of previously backlogged rape kits
June 3, 2021 Updated Thu., June 3, 2021 at 8:54 p.m.
Spokane police are sifting through the results of hundreds of previously untested sexual assault kits in an effort to close cold cases. Now they have a phone line and email address to help survivors reach them about their cases.
The review of old cases is part of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Project, a statewide effort which calls for testing of thousands of rape kits backlogged for submission to Washington State Patrol labs, according to a news release from the department. These cases include sexual assault reports filed before July 16, 2015, the release said.
As police investigate, they are partnering with victim advocates from Lutheran Community Services Northwest , a nonprofit that helps sexual assault survivors.
Roughly 1,000 of the more than 1,500 kits submitted by SPD to crime labs have been tested and had results returned, the release said, but results don’t necessarily mean a case is solved.
By Jan. 17 of this year, about 90 kit tests in Spokane identified DNA that matched samples in the federal DNA database, called the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS. But even if the suspected perpetrator’s DNA matches DNA in the CODIS system, there may not be enough evidence for prosecution, the release said.
A grant for more than $40,000 has helped fund 20 hours per week of overtime for a detective and sergeant who have focused solely on older rape cases in recent months.
In every case, regardless of law enforcement’s ability to pursue criminal charges, a survivor can get assistance from victim advocates at Lutheran Community Services.
Police are asking anyone who wants to look into their case to call the department’s new victim reporting number at (509) 625-4240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Police ask survivors to leave their name and a phone number.
An investigator or victim advocate will return the phone call to verify the survivor’s identity, answer questions and discuss options, the release said.
Lutheran Community Services victim advocates can be reached by call or text on the nonprofit’s 24/7 Sexual Assault Support Line at (509) 624-7273.
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