Mobile Police are now caught up on decades worth of backlogged rape kits

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — For decades hundreds of rape kits have sat on shelves, untouched, in Mobile. 757 of them to be exact. Some of those rape kits date back to the 1980s.

Thanks to $1.9 million in grants from the Department of Justice to Mobile Police, there is no more backlog. It’s been a process that’s taken several years, but now every kit has been tested.

Of the 757 kits tested, 139 have gotten hits in CODIS, a national database that stores DNA information.

“Each survivor takes the news a little differently. We hope it brings them a lot of closure and they’re able to rest a little easier,” said Lt. Matthew James, Special Victims Unit Commander.

Here’s a breakdown of the results of the 139 hits:

  • 4 new arrests
  • 9 hits confirmed police already arrested the right person
  • 43 cases are still active investigations (police are working to locate victims or suspects, forensic leads with no suspect identified)
  • 83 cases will not move forward (victim does not want to move forward with charges, suspect or victim is deceases, declined by prosecutor)

Police say the process has been successful and what they’ve learned over the past few years has been invaluable.

“This whole process has led to an involution as to how we investigate sex crimes and a shift in the focus of how we relate to victims and they’re treated in the investigation,” said Lt. James.

So now they’re teaching others. On Wednesday Mobile Police in conjunction with the District Attorney’s Office and the Rape Crisis Center hosted a training for officers across the region. The training focused on teaching officers about the process of sexual assault investigation and prosecution, advocacy, and how to use a victim-centered approach.

Mobile Police say what they’ve learned about advancements in technology and how to relate to victims has helped them be successful in new cases.


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