SLC Council quizzes chief over untested rape kits

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Councilman Kyle LaMalfa wants to know why hundreds of rape kits are just sitting in the evidence room at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, untested.

"It's absolutely mind-numbing how this could come into being!" he exclaimed at the end of a city council hearing on the issue. "Every victim of a sexual assault deserves complete justice. The fact that these kits have not been fully processed and fully entered into the database is of concern."

LaMalfa summoned Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank to appear before the council to talk about the untested rape kits. Burbank insisted the police were not shirking their duties.

"To say that we are not prioritizing certain cases... it's just not accurate," Burbank told FOX 13 outside the hearing.

Figures provided by the Salt Lake City Police Department revealed that from 2004-2014, detectives booked 942 "Code R kits," used to gather evidence of a sexual assault, into evidence. Of those:

  • 59 were tested and destroyed after the case went through court;
  • 154 were sent to the Utah State Crime Lab;
  • 163 were not tested but destroyed for various reasons (including uncooperative victims or changes in state law);
  • 625 were untested.


Read SLC PD Chief Burbank's presentation to the SLC Council

Burbank said that in 2013 alone, the SLCPD collected more than 27,000 pieces of evidence.

"All of those potentially have some sort of DNA value," he told FOX 13. "To process every single one of those, it's not feasible. So we constantly are evaluating and making decisions."

Burbank said detectives were often able to obtain enough evidence to send to prosecutors for possible charges without having a Code R kit tested. It is somewhat expensive, about $1,100 per kit.

Holly Mullen, the executive director of the Rape Recovery Center, said she believes more needs to be done.

"Even if we don't test every single kit, we can test a lot more than we're doing right now," she said.

The Salt Lake City Council advanced the idea of a task force to see what the city can do to process the rape kits. Burbank said he believed his detectives were making the right decisions about what to do -- and said the kits were not being destroyed in case they were needed later.

Mullen said she understood Burbank's concerns, but believes that the decision to not process the rape kits sends a message to sexual assault victims.

"What the backlog and the delays tell them is, 'Your case is not important,'" she said. "There's also some judgment they feel that, 'They don't believe me. They think I lied, that I deserve this.' I'm not saying that the police believe that in any way. But this is the way a victim internalizes what's happening when days, weeks, months go by -- even years without the disposition of a rape kit."


  • Trish Ramirez

    If you’re a woman in Utah, your primary objective is to procreate.

    If they can’t get you through the local predominant religion, they’ll get you by force.

    Don’t think for a second that your right not to be assaulted is as viable as the state’s right to keep you in your place, silly girl.

    We have a Safe Haven law where you can dump your unwanted child, but we don’t teach you about contraception or biology because we wouldn’t want you making the choice not to be a brood mare in the first place.

    Education is bad, blind subservience is where it’s at.

    How else are you going to get into heaven, ladies?

    Have some kids, be a good uterus with legs, do your duty, your deity wants you to.

    I’m so sick and tired of the misogynistic double standard that is rampant in the patriarchal society.

    We need to be educating our girls, teaching them that they have value beyond their biological ability to procreate. That if they are assaulted, that crime is at least as serious and will be investigated as fully as someone who chooses to smoke marijuana recreationally.

    This state had the resources to send the entire SWAT team into a man’s home for growing pot, but they don’t have the resources to process these kits when a woman is violently and irrevocably assaulted?

    What a joke.

    If you want to know the true nature of a state’s concern for it’s citizens, look at their LE priorities.

    There’s not a lot of money to be made prosecuting crimes against women, so they are ignored – but you can make a bundle trumping up misdemeanor drug charges against consenting adults. You can fine them a grand a pop, while investigating assault claims costs the state time and money.

    There is no such thing as justice anymore, it’s all about making money for the police state, ran but the biggest money making religious institution in the nation.

    Go figure.

    • Bitsko

      You are a hate-fueled crackpot who knows nothing about “the predominant religion”, and doesn’t care to learn.

      That kind of bile-spitting hate reads exactly like anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda. There wasn’t a single word of truth in what you wrote. Not one.

      Salt Lake City is VERY liberal, politically, with a liberal mayor and a liberal District Attorney. Democrats as far as the eye can see. That is a fact.

  • Bob

    Lucky is the girl born into a two-parent home that include both a mother and father here in Utah. She is encouraged to get an education and develope her potential. She is taught to get the horse before the cart before having children, and she learns to appreciate the benefits of living a morally clean life.

    And yes, when the time is right she discovers the joys that come from holding a precious child in her arms.

    You can always identify the truly happy girls by the choices they make.

  • never the whole story

    Another half truth put into print. At no time did Burbank say they simply weren’t investigating any of the cases. That was left to be assumed by the comments made by Mullen, who clearly believes throwing a task force and more money into investigating the perceived problem will make it better. Believe me, the cops want to get the bad guys. They would love for every case to be heard. They spend a lot of time working the cases and writing the reports. Do you know what percentage of those are actually looked at or pursued by the courts? Both are understaffed, the courts and the law enforcement communities. Simply saying nothing is being done is not correct. How many of those kits not tested, didn’t need to be tested due to other evidence? How many did not need to be tested because the victim wouldn’t cooperate for whatever reason they may have? How many were not tested because the other evidence proved the accusations were unfounded?

    Again, never the whole story!

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