Council approves contract with Dallas Co. to solve rape kit backlog

AUSTIN - As rape kits at the Austin Police Department continue to go untested, the Austin City Council approved a contract with Dallas County Thursday to help resolve the backlog.

Since APD's DNA lab closed in June, the department has sent most of its evidence to the Texas Department of Public Safety to be processed. However, DPS has only been able to process some of the cases.

As of early September, there were about 600 recent sexual assault investigations pending, including 482 rape kits.

Austin police said a six-year contract with Dallas County could mean that 700 to 1,200 rape kits would get tested.

Those with the Safe Alliance told KVUE's Christy Millweard several months ago that DNA testing is critical to keeping people safe.

Austin City Council Member Greg Cesar released the following statement about the agreement: 

“Today Council approved an agreement with the Dallas County forensic lab to process backlogged sexual assault evidence. According to our police department, the City of Austin has more than 700 sexual assault evidence cases pending just since 2014.

This continues to be an unacceptable situation. Thanks to the advocacy of survivors and their allies, our police department made a commitment in September to clear the backlog as quickly as possible while our own forensic lab is closed.

Today’s action gets us a step closer to achieving that goal, but we still don’t know how much closer. That’s not good enough. Survivors in our community deserve to know, at a minimum, what our City’s goals are for when their evidence will be processed.

Our Interim City Manager Elaine Hart has pledged that Council and the public will receive a report from the police department within four weeks laying out the plan for getting this critical work done.

Today was an important step, and we still have a ways to go.”

(© 2016 KVUE)


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