AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department says it’s on track to clear the hundreds of sexual assault cases backlogged waiting for DNA testing. The city expects to have all Sexual Assault Kits (SAK) tested by the middle of 2018.
Sources within the agency tell KXAN’s Sally Hernandez APD plans to bring in retired police investigators to help close some of the cases.
Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore says her office is working closely with APD to make sure cases are solved quickly once the DNA of a sexual assault kit is uploaded to CODIS, the database that helps police identify a suspect through DNA.
“APD committed to testing all their sexual assault kits, whether or not that evidence would be material to the prosecution of that case, but for the purpose to be able to upload that information into CODIS for future hits,” explains Moore. “They have assigned retired investigators to analyze those cases as they come back.”
Moore says the retired investigators will look at the case with her office to decide on criminal charges, if it should go to trial or if the case should be closed.
While the retired investigators haven’t been hired, they will be in place next year thanks to a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The city says it’s using $312,000 to pay for the two extra investigators. Until now, APD has dedicated four current investigators to these cases over the past year.
In an October memorandum, the city indicated APD’s original backlog of sexual assault kits was at 4,080. After coordinating with outside agencies to assist with the lab work, the agency has been able to get that backlog down to 856.