OBSI is working to test the backlog of sexual assault kits
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation reported that it is breaking through the statewide backlog of sexual assault kits that need to be tested.
The agency said it was using grants, new partnerships and new staff to get the kits tested as quickly as possible.
OBSI said it hired seven people to work specifically on testing the kits and using outside labs, the results of which the agency said often come back with matches to offenders.
OBSI has been tasked with a big job: catching up on state testing of sexual assault kits.
Senate Bill 967 passed in 2019 also directed OBSI to develop a statewide tracking system for these kits.
OBSI Director Aungela Spurlock said the agency is making progress.
“We currently have a grant going,” Spurlock explained. “We were working quite heavily with the AG office on that. We’ve now staffed that unit, so we have investigators working in the field, we’ve partnered with the lab, AG, some of our other agencies. “
As of October 2021, over 7,200 kits have been tracked and analyzed.
As of September, 1,483 kits are being analyzed and 1,384 have not been submitted to OBSI.
The agency said it had completed analyzes on 547 kits by the end of August.
“We’re making sure these cases now come into the violent offender management system, ViCap and that sort of thing,” Spurlock said.
Spurlock said much of the progress came from hiring seven people to focus on DNA and serology, which is the study of serum and other bodily fluids.
“So I think we’re successful in the start-up phase,” Spurlock said. “We are in the early stages, but we are presenting our partners and training that will improve the whole system.”
The 2019 bill also requires law enforcement to send sexual assault kits for testing within 20 days of collection, but it does not require the kits to be tested immediately.