The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said Friday it hopes to solve additional old rape cases thanks to a grant it received for about $558,000 to address the backlog of untested sexual assault kits.
The grant is from the New York County District Attorney’s Office, which issued $38 million in grants to 20 jurisdictions, according to its website.
As of June 1 CMPD had a backlog of 885 kits, and as a requirement of the grant, the kits will be outsourced to a lab in Virginia. There are 350 open cases related to the 885 untested kits that the CMPD hopes to close.
“Our goal is to not only test the kits, but to bring resolution to the cases, and provide a healing opportunity for the victims,” said Lt. Melanie Peacock of the CMPD’s sexual assault unit.
The results from the kits will be entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, which can make a match on any other case that has been entered into the database.
A majority of the kits were related to cases that were closed. Either the victims declined to prosecute or the cases were unfounded, and what happened may not have constituted a crime. So testing the kits wasn’t going to necessarily make a case.
“The impact on cold cases is going to be tremendous,” Peacock said.
Cold cases consist of cases that are beyond five years old.
Also while they’re testing the kits officers may find links to other cases and provide justice for another victim.
“On some cases victims choose to go forward with some cases, while on others they do not because they’ve found a way to move past it ...” Peacock said. “We don’t push the victims to prosecute if they don’t wish to do so.”
The kits are used to collect blood, body fluid, fibers, hair and clothing from a victim of sexual assault and can take hours.
The cost for processing the kits is around $665, according to Peacock.