November 18, 2020
It has been three years since the first statewide inventory. In November of 2020, a man that sexually assaulted a woman in 2001 was finally identified and convicted after the sexual assault kit was left untested. The sexual assault kit was not sent to the State Crime Lab for DNA testing because standard practice at the time was to test kits when there was an identified suspect whose DNA could be directly compared to the DNA collected in the sex assault kit.
Because of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative and meticulous State Crime lab scientists, a dedicated investigator and a determined prosecuted, the case was appropriately resolved. The work each of the DPS civilian and commissioned staff is so critical – it matters. Every day, every minute matters, and the impact the DPS staff has is immeasurable. This is an exceptional success, built on years of work and layers of various improvements and focus made in this department.
We owe it to every survivor to never give up, and make sure every possible piece of evidence or lead is tracked down. I would like to thank the SAKI team that tirelessly work on this case that brought justice to the survivor and protected Alaskans by getting this offender off the streets. A huge thank you to the survivor for her strength and perseverance during a difficult process. DPS stands with and continues to fight for justice for every survivor.
November 1, 2018
A statewide inventory in 2017 found more than 3,000 sexual assault kits spread across nearly 50 police agencies in Alaska that had never been submitted to the Crime Lab for DNA analysis. These kits spanned three decades, and there were many reasons kits were not submitted for testing over the years. In some instances, the kit was not submitted for testing because it was not needed for the immediate case. Sometimes, law enforcement or prosecutors made the determination that a sexual assault investigation would not proceed any further in the criminal justice process and declined to submit the kit for analysis. All of these decisions were made based on individual cases, and not necessarily with the potential impact on other cases in mind.
As science and training improved and the CODIS database became more and more robust, we realized we were not capitalizing on the power of such data as much as we could have. Time, experience, and research also tells us that sexual assault offenders often assault more than one victim and often commit other types of crimes. DNA may be the key to linking that offender to other actions they have not been held accountable for yet. We now know there is incredible value in testing these kits. As a result, the Department of Public Safety is additionally evaluating its policies and procedures to ensure we improve our response to sexual assault survivors. Providing more information on this process, accessible through this website, is only one step.
I do not take for granted that an immense amount of trust must be placed in the criminal justice system for someone to report something as devastating as sexual assault – that is a trust Department of Public Safety must not take lightly. It must be continually earned, and at times earned back again.
Survivors of sexual assault deserve justice, and we believe this project and publication of this data is a way for us to continue strides in that direction. I invite you to explore this website and return to it on a regular basis to learn more about our work and progress.
Commissioner of Public Safety