State Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen is going all in with the politics and ruffling feathers. In his latest special report on untested rape kits held by Kentucky State Police and other law enforcement agencies, here’s the imagery used on his cover page:
Strong visual for an audit report, to say the least. But not as strong as the report’s actual findings.
Let’s dig into the report. Will keep excerpts brief so you can get to the 97-page document.
“The results of this initiative are stomach-turning,” Auditor Edelen said. “When a victim has the courage to undergo an invasive and traumatizing exam after an assault, he or she deserves to have the evidence in that sexual assault kit analyzed. One of government’s fundamental responsibilities is to bring these rapists to justice.”
- Kentucky has 3,090 untested rape kits. 1,859 untested kits are in the possession of 87 police/sheriff departments. 1,231 are in the possession of the KSP forensic laboratory.
- In discussions with KSP, it was determined the likely reason no untested kits were at the posts because all posts were directed to submit untested kits to the forensic laboratory after the APA count began. However, based on data received from the forensic laboratory, only 59 untested kits were submitted by KSP posts during the period under review.
- LMPD reported that it is still sorting out problems accounting for kits associated with its merger (Jefferson County and the City of Louisville) in 2003.
- The Kentucky State Police Forensic Laboratory’s average turnaround time to analyze rape kits submitted in 2014 is currently 8 months and data indicates the turnaround time is increasing
- Limited resources, state budget cuts, and recruitment and retention issues at the KSP forensic laboratories are significant factors contributing to the lengthy turnaround times
- The turnaround time to obtain DNA test results from the KSP Forensic Laboratory is currently estimated to be an average of eight months. KSP addressed media questions regarding the backlog of sexual assault kits by indicating additional funding was needed to improve its turnaround time of DNA analysis. Auditors analyzed KSP’s preliminary cost estimates to improve the turnaround time to conduct forensic analysis, as well as the agency’s expenditure history and, capital budget priorities. KSP did apply for and receive grant funding in past years to pay for training and overtime for DNA analysts. However, the results of this analysis indicated that overall KSP did not take broad action to address the underlying problems that led to increased turnaround times. It was not clear what processes were in place to make KSP leadership aware of the increasing turnaround times, if any.
- When managing a government agency, priorities are generally reinforced in the agency through budgetary measures. KSP indicates that more funding is needed to resolve the current backlog of sexual assault kits and to add staff and equipment to maintain lower turnaround times. Yet, the forensic laboratory had requested no additional state funding for equipment and personnel to expand its capacity to address the backlog, long turnaround times or higher volume of evidence expected in the future. Inquiries within KSP identified that when funding is short in one area of the department, resources are shifted from another area so needs are met throughout the agency. In fact, KSP stated that the forensic laboratory often is able to expend more than originally budgeted due to resources being pulled from other areas, and the forensic laboratory director indicated that when she requests staffing it is authorized. These explanations describe how the agency attempts to maintain the status quo, but does not identify necessary strategic planning to handle the growing volume of forensic evidence submitted or significantly reduce turnaround times for the current evidence load.
- An analysis of forensic laboratory spending and requests for funding, as well as other statements by KSP indicated a lack of prioritization of forensic evidence analysis.
- KSP also told auditors that management has had discussions about scaling down the amount of forensic evidence the forensic laboratory would analyze by not accepting certain types of cases.
- Communications and policies from the forensic lab re: rape kits were inconsistent and confusing, resulting in fewer kits submitted
- A sheriff’s deputy stated that the forensic laboratory told him that it would not test the kit if the case wasn’t going to be prosecuted.
- The APA found that most agencies lack clear policies for handling sexual assault kits and communicating with victims; however, most agencies expressed a desire for clearer policies and some were unsure how to obtain model policies.
- Policies for destroying untested and tested sexual assault kits are varied and the statute is vague, and as a result, some kits may have been inappropriately destroyed
- Most law enforcement agencies lack specific policies for logging, tracking and storing rape kits, resulting in varying processes across Kentucky
- Law enforcement training is wide-ranging, resulting in some officers being better equipped than others to process rape kits
- 41% of law enforcement agencies reported that they do not submit all kits
The report is a real mess. It’ll frustrate you. A wake up call for law enforcement and the legislature that will hopefully matter.
Click here (Warning: Huge PDF Link – 7ish MB) to review the entire report for yourself. Save the report to your computer instead of opening it in your web browser. Reading on a mobile device is not recommended. The report will be available via the auditor’s website shortly.
Most surprising: There was no mention in the report of the commissioner’s daughter once having a no-show job in the lab. Probably because that’d be too much reality to address.
Complacency, nepotism and general good old boy mentalities plague nearly every agency in government across Kentucky. This rape kit crisis is merely a blip on the consequence radar.