The Colorado House Judiciary Committee has taken a step toward eliminating the state’s rape kit backlog. The Committee unanimously passed a bill, HB 1020, that would require each law enforcement agency to inventory—within 60 days—and send for testing—within 90 days—the untested kits in its storage facilities.
If passed by the rest of the Colorado General Assembly, the law would also mandate that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation propose a plan for analyzing all submitted rape kits by June 30, 2014. Going forward, the law would require rape kits to be submitted for testing within 21 days of receipt by a law enforcement agency.
State Rep. Frank McNulty introduced the bill in response to an ABC CALL7 investigative report uncovering hundreds of untested rape kits in the greater Denver area. In a guest commentary for the Colorado Observer, Rep. McNulty explained his concern after seeing the report:
It takes very real courage to come forward to report a sexual assault and even greater courage to go through the trauma of evidence being collected. These women subjected themselves to the trauma of evidence collection so that their attacker would be brought to justice and so that other women wouldn’t become victims of their attacker. If rape kits are More >
Recently, there has been news of rape kit backlogs in two areas of the country: the greater Denver area in Colorado and the Phoenix metropolitan area in Arizona.Greater Denver Area, Colorado
On November 11, 2012, ABC CALL7 released the results of an investigation to determine the number of untested rape kits in the greater Denver area. The investigation uncovered hundreds of untested rape kits. Among the findings were that the Denver Police Department has tested only 56% of the 1,064 rape kits it has collected since 2008. The Fort Collins Police Department, about an hour north of Denver, has tested just 28%of the 243 kits it has collected since 2007. Jefferson County has tested only 36% of the 117 rape kits it has collected in the last five years.
Throughout the investigation, police officials reported that their departments believe it is unnecessary to test all rape kits. A commander with the Denver Police explained, “A lot of rape kits we end up doing are just to document the trauma and everything else that occurred.” He went on to say, “No, we don’t test 100% of the cases. Some of those we don’t want to test or don’t need to test.” While detectives decide More >