Kentucky State Police sexual assault kit initiative team expands

New investigator to focus on investigating and identifying sexual offenders in Jefferson County

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear and Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey announced Thursday an additional $849,491 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been awarded to expand the Kentucky State Police (KSP) Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Investigative Team through an additional investigator who will focus their efforts on the Louisville-Jefferson County region.

The KSP SAKI investigative team was originally formed in July 2021 after DOJ awarded $1.5 million to the commonwealth to leverage existing investigative resources within the KSP Crime Lab by transitioning three trained investigators and a criminal intelligence analyst from the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General to KSP.

“Every dollar our state is awarded is one step forward in the fight to end violent crime and sexual assault,” said Gov. Beshear. “As your Governor, protecting Kentuckians and promoting justice across our commonwealth is a top priority. By expanding the SAKI investigative team and strengthening their important work of helping to identify and hold these offenders accountable, we are creating a better, safer Kentucky.”

Since the formation of the KSP SAKI investigative team, investigators have been able to access information and evidence that was collected at the time of the crime as well as new sources of information to help bring offenders to justice.

The bulk of the current SAKI inventory originated in the Louisville Metro area. Therefore, the new investigator will reopen and investigate cases connected through Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) hits, and work with prosecutors to obtain new charges when possible. Additionally, this funding will support the hiring of one part-time administrative staff member to facilitate investigations by providing support to the KSP SAKI investigative team. The administrative staff member will update records, including those regarding testing outcomes, facilitate victim notifications using the established protocol with the local sexual assault service provider and obtain archived cases initially investigated by the Louisville Metro Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies.

“By expanding the KSP SAKI investigative team to focus more strongly on the Louisville area, which has the largest number of kits identified, we can begin to bring justice to victims and strengthen public safety within Kentucky,” said Secretary Harvey. “Additionally, this project further advances the priorities of the Department of Justice as it is another step toward enhancing public trust between law enforcement and their communities.”

This award also provides funding for the KSP Forensic Lab to complete DNA and other forensic analyses on sexual assault kits from approximately 500 historical cases from the Phase III inventory, which consists of identified SAKI-eligible sexual assaults and sexually-motivated homicides occurring from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

“The types of crimes investigated utilizing SAKI resources are some of the most personal violations conceivable,” said KSP Detective Janet Barnett. “Having additional resources available to serve victims and assist our law enforcement partners will bolster this undertaking. It is the goal of the SAKI investigative team to leverage all assets to bring closure to victims and strengthen the commonwealth’s efforts in this endeavor.”

The passage of the Safe Act in 2016 guaranteed the submission of all Sexual Assault Forensic Exam, or SAFE, kits, required law enforcement to receive training to conduct victim-centered sexual assault investigations and established timelines for testing kits.

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