Efforts to get more untested rape kits to the lab are moving forward in Utah

Efforts to get more untested rape kits to the lab are moving forward in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC 4 Utah) – A new approach could cut into a serious backlog of sexual assault cases in our state.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC 4 Utah) – A new approach could cut into a serious backlog of sexual assault cases in our state.

In Utah there are about 2500 rape kits that haven't made it to the lab for testing, more than 600 are from Salt Lake City.

"We need punishment for these crimes and we need to get through the backlog and make sure that victims see justice. That's the bottom line," said Salt Lake City Councilman, Kyle LaMalfa.

LaMalfa hosted a heated meeting on the issue back in April, 2014.

Since then he's been encouraged by a commitment to transparency at the Salt Lake City Police Department and other efforts by a state committee to find solutions.

One is a promising new approach known as U-Quik.

It's based on a program seeing success in California.

"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, Director of the Utah State Crime Lab.

Henry says that will happen by narrowing the evidence to two or three really good samples and sending it straight to DNA, bypassing other traditional tests.

Henry believes it will lead to drastic results.

"Maybe half the time, a third of the time that normally it would take," said Henry.

Another possible solution is increased funding so more kits could be outsourced to other labs.

LaMalfa likes the progress, but says it's just one piece of the puzzle when cracking the crime.

"Really it's an end to end solution starting with the initial 911 call all the way through conviction. There are improvements that can be made in our process," said LaMalfa.

The plan is to start training responding investigators and nurse examiners on U-Quik this fall.

The committee will make funding recommendations to the state legislature during the next session.

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