Salt Lake Police Chief disagrees with city proposal to solve rape kits backlog

By Brian Carlson

Published 08/19 2014 08:00PM

Updated 08/19 2014 10:16PM

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank is weighing in on a possible solution for a backlog of city rape cases. Right now the cases are stacking up and the City has an idea to catch up on them, but the Chief doesn't agree with it.

The Chief sat down for a question and answer session Tuesday with the media, and talked about a number of issues, the back log of rape kits is one of them.

"It's an undo burden on the tax payers,” said Chris Burbank, Salt Lake Police Chief.

That's what Salt Lake Police Chief had to say Tuesday about a possible city ordinance intended to speed up the process of investigating rape cases in Salt Lake City.

"It's a broad spectrum that we need to evaluate and it needs to be done responsibly," said Burbank.

The back log of what's called "rape kits" has become a well publicized problem over recent months. There are about 2,500 rape kits in Utah that still haven't made it to the State Crime Lab for testing and more than 600 of them are from Salt Lake City. Right now the State Crime Lab Director is looking into new methods to catch up on the kits.

"We think that we can do the testing of rape kits faster, better and in a more economical sense, and provide results faster to law enforcement," said Jay Henry, State Crime Lab Director.

Salt Lake City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa wants all of Salt Lake's rape kits processed, and filed.

"We need to get through the backlog and make sure that victims see justice," said Kyle LaMalfa, Salt Lake City Council.

Although Chief Burbank sympathizes with the idea and with rape victims, he said the city council's proposal would put priority for rape kits over things like DNA tests for murder cases, and he said lab resources can not be tied up by one crime alone.

"It needs to be equal across the board, now it plays politically, very sympathetic to someone who's a victim to sexual assault, and I'm very sympathetic to that, but I also have to be realistic and deal with the victim of all crimes," said Burbank.

Although the Chief disagrees with the current city proposal, there are other ideas at the state level being talked about to address this issue. ABC 4 Utah is told training will begin on one idea this fall, and state law makers will get a report during the next legislative session.

Follow Brian Carlson on Twitter: @briancarlsontv

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