SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of untested rape kits are sitting with the Salt Lake City Police Department.
On Tuesday, they launched the “Code R Kit Project” to review every sexual assault evidence kit in their custody and report to the public the reasons those kits have not been sent to the State Crime Lab for analysis.
The department has committed to clearing the backlog of nearly 700 untested rape kits. Four detectives will be looking over every detail of each case — again — to determine if the kits warrant processing at the crime lab.
“Every single kit is going to be one person, four to six hours, where they have their body treated purely like a crime scene and that’s really devastating. It was for me,” said Tiffany Thorne, a sexual assault survivor. “It’s hard to feel like after all this time that this is a point of progress but I understand that it is and I recognize that they’re trying to do the right thing here.”
For the first time in history, SLCPD is allowing public access to how rape and sexual assault cases are handled.
The “Code R Kit Project” has its own page on the department’s website.
“I think it demonstrates a desire to be open and clear and demonstrate to the public that these cases and the victims of these cases are folks that the department cares about,” said Alana Kindness, Executive Director of Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Some of the information provided includes the current status of the rape kit, victim and suspect information, and a summary of the case. So far, 20 cases have been posted.
“If we can solve one of those cases, if one of them needed to be sent back and we send it back and were able to solve it then it makes it all worth it,” said Sgt. Robin Heiden with SLCPD.
Salt Lake City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa brought the issue of these untested rape kits to the department’s attention at a council meeting in April.
“I look forward to really a systemic change in our ability to solve crime and help victims of sexual abuse,” the councilman said after seeing the website Monday.
Thorne admits she was skeptical of the project but hopes that through this there will be a heightened awareness.
“I feel like other cities who have done this and they brought all those backlogs and they processed them were able to find serial rapists in the community and I hope that we’re able to see that in Salt Lake just to make it safer to bring more light to the subject,” she said.
Police tell FOX 13 that any identifying information like names, addresses and actual case numbers have been removed to protect the alleged victims.
FOX 13 wants to warn viewers that the website does contain some graphic content that police feel may not be appropriate for people younger than 18. Parental discretion is advised for minors who visit the site.
To view the Code R Kit Project site visit: http://slcpd.com/slcpd-code-r-kits-project/.