(NewsSpace.com) – When someone is sexually assaulted, they are advised to go to the emergency room or urgent care center to have a rape kit done. That is the process of collecting evidence from the crime and hopefully picking up some DNA from saliva or bodily fluids that can be used to identify the perpetrator. These kits are used in the investigation and prosecution, so they’re essential to convicting the attacker and making sure the person pays for their crime and doesn’t have the opportunity to do it to anyone else. Now, it’s coming to light that one major law enforcement agency may have failed to collect the kits.
In a report published on December 2, the New York Post revealed that it learned that New York Police Department (NYPD) officers allegedly failed to retrieve DNA evidence from multiple city hospitals. That is in violation of a law passed in December 2022, which mandates that the kits cannot be stored in hospitals and must be moved to a warehouse in Albany, where they will remain for 20 years.
Many of the kits are “inactive,” meaning the victims who underwent the exams decided not to press charges. The evidence is kept in state custody in case the person changes their mind and wants to go ahead with it. However, according to an NYPD source who spoke with the Post on condition of anonymity, some of those kits are actually from active cases where the victims are cooperating with authorities in pursuing charges and prosecution.
The source revealed that “the total number of released rape kits citywide that should have been picked up by [Special Victims Division] detectives may total several hundred.” Once the victim releases the kit and gives authorities permission to take the evidence, it goes to the city medical examiner’s office. There, it goes under analysis to determine if there are criminal matches in a database.
The fact that many kits weren’t collected upon release means, in a worst-case scenario, that there could be rapists on the loose.
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