SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – More than 100 suspects of sexual assault have been identified in Salt Lake City. City Council members hope this will bring survivors “some peace of mind.”
This is part of a five-year ongoing police effort initiated by the City Council to test all sexual assault evidence kits (rape kits) backlogged in evidence.
Forty-two of the 100 suspects had not previously been identified by law enforcement.
In a press release on Monday, council members thanked the “vigilance” of Salt Lake police regarding the issue.
“Bringing justice to these cases, and some peace of mind to the survivors and the community, was our primary goal in this effort,” said Council Chair Charlie Luke. “We are pleased Salt Lake City police have helped lead the way nationwide in improving the way these difficult cases are handled.”
In 2014, the then-council members set a new policy direction for dealing with sexual assault cases, which included funding for testing of all cases with usable DNA evidence by the state lab and required an annual update from SLCPD on the progress. State lawmakers followed suit with a similar testing mandate for all Utah law enforcement agencies in 2017.
The Council provided funding for officer training, and to hire a forensic scientist whose job is to accelerate the processing of future kits.
The latest data provided by the Council also shows the entire backlog of sexual assault evidence collection kits in the department’s custody from a 10-year period – 768 rape kits in total – were submitted and eventually processed at the state crime lab as of last year.
According to the Council, other results from the kits processed to date show 105 offender DNA matches or ‘hits’ from the National Crime Combined DNA database. This allows an offender to be connected to multiple crimes across multiple jurisdictions and improves the chances of identifying the suspect and securing criminal charges.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown is scheduled to brief the Council on Tuesday at 2 p.m.