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Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP), Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2015
8 pages
This is the executive summary of the final report on the Detroit Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Action Research Project (ARP) which had the following project goals: to assess the scope of the problem by conducting a complete census of all SAKs in the police property inventory; to identify the underlying factors contributing to so many unsubmitted SAKs; to develop a plan for testing SAKs and to evaluate the efficacy of that plan; and to create a victim notification protocol and evaluate the effectiveness/efficiency of that protocol.
First, the study found that there were 11,219 SAKs in police custody as of November 1, 2009. A total of 2,512 SAKs had laboratory ID numbers, indicating that they had been submitted for testing, but it was unclear how many had actually been tested for DNA. The Project developed a step-by-step summary of the census procedures used in the project to assist other jurisdictions in conducting a similar census of SAKs in police custody. Second, the underlying reasons for the large number of untested SAKs pertained to chronic understaffing and resource depletion compared to other U.S. cities of similar size, composition,. and crime rates, as well as police personnel victim-blaming attitudes in sexual assault cases, without consistent supervision and training to challenge these attitudes and related practices. Third, the project developed and evaluated a plan for funding the testing of uncommitted SAKs. Funds were pooled from the Detroit SAK ARP budget, the State police department's NIJ DNA Backlog Reduction Grants, and the resources of a university-based forensic laboratory that was separately funded by NIJ. Under this funding, the project tested 1,600 SAKs. Fourth, the project developed and evaluated a victim notification protocol that provided a structure for processing sexual assault cases accompanied by victim notification of completed processing steps.

Date Published: February 1, 2015