Oklahoma rape kit tracking system gives power back to survivors, helps with backlogs, says local sexual assault advocate

System can also benefit law enforcement
Oklahoma rape kit testing

MIAMI, Okla. – By simply typing in a serial number, sexual assault survivors can now find the location and testing status of their sexual assault evidence kit.

Oklahoma has adopted a new electronic tracking system for rape kits.

“It will greatly impact them, one of the biggest things with sexual assault is sexual assault is about power and control and so when a victim has gone through something like that, they virtually lose all control of what has happened and so they have to go through an exam which is really tough and once that box leaves with all of their information they’re left in the dark” said Wyandotte Nation, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocate, Lisa Arnold.

This new tracking system that is operated by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, gives power back to those survivors who lost it.

“They can make sure that it is being processed, that the DNA is being processed, you know what’s happening and where it’s at. At least they have some idea of where their case is going because it does take a while” added Arnold.

The Oklahoma Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Task Force found that more than 7,000 rape kits in Oklahoma were untested.

Arnold believes the new tracking system will help decrease backlogs.

“You know the backlog of sexual assault kits that needed to be tested was a number that just wasn’t acceptable. Now with this responsibility of the tracking of these kits, it’s going to force individuals to make it a priority, to make sure these kits are getting processed in a timely fashion.”

According to the Associated Press, 159 law enforcement agencies out of more than 350 in the state are registered for the system.

Miami Police Department is one of them.

“That could be a very helpful tool for an investigator, not only that, you have transparency there, you have more accountability so I think this is going to be a good thing” said Miami Police Captain, Todd Hicks.

Though the system is now in effect, it could be a while for all kits to be processed into it. Captain Hicks said they have been waiting several months for OSBI to contact them about putting their old evidence into the system. Hicks told KOAM that they are in line behind bigger departments to get that evidence processed.

“Any new cases that will come in will immediately be sent to the lab, on what evidence we have from old cases that are sitting in our evidence room, I can’t speak for OSBI I don’t know when they’re going to call to say ‘Hey we’re ready, let’s get all this down here…we’ve been waiting for that call.”

Survivors can also find Victim Rights information on the Sexual Assault tracking kit website.

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