Missouri Attorney General Obtains $2.5 Million Grant to Continue SAFE Kit Initiative
Nov 17, 2022, 15:42 PM
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today that his office has received a third federal grant from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, with this grant totaling $2.5 million. The grant will allow the Attorney General’s Office to continue its work on the SAFE Kit Initiative, which aims to clear the backlog of untested sexual assault kits.
“I launched the SAFE Kit Initiative in 2019 to clear the backlog of sexual assault kits throughout the state of Missouri, and since then we’ve made great strides in completing that goal,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “Now, with this third round of federal grant funding, we will be able to complete this great work on behalf of victims across the state and bring offenders to justice.”
The three-year National 2022 SAKI grant runs through September 30, 2025 to financially support the final statewide inventory of tested and untested kits in Missouri collected before May 2022. Inventory analysts will also provide training and onboarding to hospitals and law enforcement to ensure all organizations are users of the electronic sexual assault kit tracking system, SAFETrack. SAFETrack was developed to allow victims and survivors of sexual violence to monitor the movement of their kit through the criminal justice system.
The 2022 SAKI grant will provide DNA testing for 1,171 additional sexual assault kits, and assist local law enforcement agencies to investigate cold cases by providing Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) data entry and Cold Case Investigators when Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) hits come back from the lab. To date there has been one conviction obtained on a Missouri SAKI CODIS hit and currently 5 more cases are set for trial.
Prior to this grant, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office received two National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grants in 2018 and 2020. The 2018 grant fueled the first state inventory of sexual assault kits, the testing of reported, untested sexual assault kits, and the creation of SAFETrack as an evidence tracking system. The 2020 grant funded the second inventory of sexual assault kits, additional testing of reported, untested sexual assault kits, and the services of a Cold Case Investigator.
The SAFE Kit Initiative was launched by Attorney General Schmitt in January of 2019 to inventory all untested sexual assault kits in the state’s backlog, create an electronic tracking system, and send those identified kits to a lab for forensic testing and then to the appropriate authority for potential prosecution. Former Judge M. Keithley Williams has led the effort since the inception of the Initiative.