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Uniting to Solve Sexual Assault Crimes

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2017
6 pages
This report explains why and how the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has provided resources for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police (LVMP) to process its backlog of untested sexual assault kits and conduct investigations based on the evidence found in the kits, some of which dated back to the mid-1980s.
Although a sexual assault kit (SAK) is the cornerstone of any sexual assault investigation, mainly because it can contain critical DNA evidence, jurisdictions around the country are stymied by their mounting backlogs of untested SAKs. In LVMP's case, there were 5,600 untested SAKs, the oldest stemming from a 1985 sexual assault. In addition to efforts to test its 5,600 SAks, the State of Nevada has committed to test 1,900 kits from other law enforcement agencies in the State. Nevada law enforcement officials believe they can test all these kits by 2018. NIJ has long been a supporter of Las Vegas' efforts to iprove their DNA testing capacity through NIJ's DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program. Since 2010, LVMPD has received nearly $5 million under this program, which has improved the LVMPD's testing capabilities, upgraded and purchased lab equipment and supplies, and funded employee overtime. Thus far, the push to test the SAKs in the backlog has resulted in 43 investigative leads due to CODIS hits. One hit resulted in the arrest and conviction of the man who committed a sex offense in Nevada 25 years ago. NIJ has supported efforts nationwide to alleviate laboratory backlogs through funding, research, training, and technical assistance.

Date Published: March 1, 2017