Michigan agencies will receive almost $5 million in federal grants to address the backlog of untested sexual assault kits and related issues, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.
The Michigan grants were part of a $41 million grant package awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice that was announced by Vice President Biden and Attorney General Loretta Lynch today.
The Michigan agencies receiving grants are the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office ($1,999,109), Michigan State Police ($2,000,000), the Flint Police Department ($1,313,409) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services ($419,000).
For Flint the funding will benefit efforts to address the 246 sexual assault kits currently in Flint PD evidence, and provide a full investigative response to the results of the kits. The City of Flint also received a grant award of $163,590 from The New York County District Attorney’s Office (DANY) 2015 Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant Program.
“Today’s grants from the U.S. Department of Justice are a direct result of the hard work of Kym Worthy and others to refuse to accept that sexual assault victims would be forgotten while evidence sat on a shelf collecting dust,” U.S. Attorney McQuade said. “These grants will help achieve justice and healing for countless victims of sexual assault in Michigan, and will help identify perpetrators before they can harm more victims.”
“The Michigan State Police applied for this grant on behalf of a team that includes the MSP, Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board and Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan. These funds will allow the team to conduct a statewide inventory of unsubmitted sexual assault evidence kits in law enforcement custody, provide training to law enforcement and prosecutors, and assist with victim services in jurisdictions with a high volume of unsubmitted sexual assault evidence kits. These monies will also be used to fund the enhancement of a sexual assault evidence kit tracking system for victims and the outsourcing of DNA analysis of unsubmitted sexual assault evidence kits found during the inventory process,” stated Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police. “Receiving this grant award is further proof and recognition of several years of hard work by a collaborative team here in Michigan to give a voice to survivors of sexual assault.”
“The award of this grant is terrific news for the City of Flint and will be a tremendous benefit to the victims in our community,” said Flint Police Chief James W. Tolbert. “The processing of backlogged sexual assault kits has been a top priority for the FPD since my time with the department began almost two years ago. We are extremely thankful of the U.S. Department of Justice for this assistance and look forward to working with our partners in the Michigan State Police, the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office and our victim advocacy groups as we work to improve the service received by Flint’s victims of sexual assault.”
The Flint Police Department’s comprehensive approach to addressing the backlogged kits through the funding provided by the grants will include the following components:
These two investigators will be assigned specifically to a unit which will place its entire focus on backlogged sexual assault cases. The primary goal will be victim assistance and prosecution of sexual assault offenders, based primarily on CODIS hits from previously un-submitted SAK’s. The formation of this unit will enhance the services provided to victims of sexual assault within our jurisdiction. The Investigators will be full time positions funded through the grant and they will work closely with other grant funded staff, including the dedicated prosecutor and the sexual assault advocate with the response team. They will be full time sworn police officer investigators, whose sole duty shall be cases of sexual assault and victim service liaison.
This property clerk shall become a part time employee of the City of Flint Police Department. This person shall work exclusively with the investigators and prosecutor to inventory the sexual assault kits, submit the sexual assault kits, track the SAK’s, locate old evidence, prepare evidence for trial, ensure chain of custody issues. Basically this position will be the sole caretaker from start to finish of all evidence associated with each crime of sexual assault for the entire duration of each case respectively, including all handling of the sexual assault kits.
The advocate shall be hired by the YWCA and will provide services to victims of sexual assault in conjunction with and in support of the investigators funded with this program. This advocate position will provide victims of assault with crisis intervention and advocacy, and support and assistance throughout the whole criminal/civil justice process. The advocate assists with safety planning, personal protection orders, court support, and referrals to needed community resources. Through the advocate, the victim also has access to the YWCA’s comprehensive services, including the safe house and emergency shelters. This advocate also provides a direct link to the Sexual Assault Response Team of the YWCA of Flint which provides resources 24 hours a day, year round.
The Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office has agreed to partner with the City of Flint Police Department on this grant. A strong collaboration with this agency will provide an easier path for the prosecution of these cases of sexual assault as they progress through the legal system. This grant funded prosecuting attorney can and will assist with warrant preparation, witness testimony, courtroom prosecution and case dispositions. This position shall also work closely with the grant funded investigators and the victim advocate. The utilization of this grant funded, dedicated prosecutor shall enhance this program and provide insight all along the timeline of the project.
The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, a competitive grant program administered by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), supports the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions’ approaches to evidence found in sexual assault kits that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory for testing. BJA created the initiative in consultation with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Office for Victims of Crime, (OVC), and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The goals of the initiative are to create a coordinated community response that ensures just resolution to these cases whenever possible through a victim-centered approach, as well as to build jurisdictions’ capacity to prevent conditions that lead to high numbers of untested kits.
The initiative is part of the Justice Department’s larger ongoing effort to comprehensively address the problem of sexual assault and to support victims. For example, NIJ maintains a webpage on Sexual Assault Investigations, Sexual Assault Kits: Using Science to Find Solutions, which provides information ranging from improving forensic sexual assault examinations to research findings on untested evidence in sexual assault cases. OVC provides a Sexual Assault Response Team Toolkit, which has over 1.4 million views to date and includes a checklist of recommendations for victim-centered policies and practices in developing a sexual assault response. OVW updated the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical
Forensic Examinations and released a companion document on Recommendations for Administrators of Prisons, Jails, and Community Confinement Facilities for Adapting the
U.S. Department of Justice’s National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, Adults/Adolescents.
A complete listing of today’s federal award recipients can be found at