In 2015, Kentucky's state auditor uncovered more than 3,000 Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) kits languishing in police departments and in the Kentucky State Police (KSP) crime lab.
The following year, the Office of the Attorney General provided $4.5 million in settlement money to lawmakers to fund requested Kentucky State Police crime lab upgrades. The SAFE Act of 2016 ensures the submission of all SAFE kits, requires that police receive training to conduct victim-centered sexual assault investigations and that timelines are set for testing kits.
The office provided an additional $1 million from the settlement to aid law enforcement and prosecutors in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases.
The Office of Victims Advocacy and Department of Criminal Investigations have partnered to provide a Sexual Assault Tool Kit to support KSP, Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, local law enforcement, prosecutors and victim advocates across the state in the implementation of the Safe Act.
The Office of the Attorney General, along with the Sexual Assault Response Team Advisory Committee (SART-AC), held a SAFE summit and helped train those working to end Kentucky's SAFE kit backlog on how to conduct victim-centered investigations and prosecute sexual assault offenders.
The office has also parterned with the Univeristy of Louisville to provide accountability in Kentucky's efforts to address the SAFE kit backlog. The university's Department of Criminal Justice, is providing valuable data to ensure a rape kit backlog never happens again and provide resources to help aid Kentucky's law enforcement and victim advocacy communities when responding to sexual assaults and further transform sexual assault investigations and prosecutions.
Kentucky SAFE Kit Backlog Research Project, Kentucky is one of the first in the nation to examine the SAFE kit backlog at the state level, and the project places Kentucky at the forefront of national efforts to respond to the problem of backlogged sexual assault kits.
Kentucky's project was established through a competitive procurement process and was funded using nearly $50,000 from the Risperdal lawsuit settlement funds, as provided for in the state budget.
In Oct. 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice has awarded a nearly $3 million National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office to seek justice for victims of sexual assault.
Within the AG’s office, Beshear will establish a sexual assault cold case unit comprised of a victim advocate, investigator, prosecutor and a SAKI coordinator from the three-year U.S Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance $2,998,090 grant. The unit will focus on investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults while providing key services to victims during the cold case process. Additionally the grant will allow the AG to fund an extra Kentucky State Police (KSP) cold case unit sexual assault detective.