(City of Akron) The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, awarded the City of Akron a 3-year Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant. The purpose of the grant is to develop a multidisciplinary working group that will be trained in a victim centered, trauma informed approach to review, prioritize, investigate, and prosecute sexual assault cold cases.
The grant will provide for:
- Personnel to support a 3-year program including 3 investigators and partial funding for an administrative assistant, a victim advocate, and a prosecutor
- A case management system database specifically designed for cold case SAK investigations and compatible with those used in the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office and the City of Akron Prosecutor’s Office
- Technology and supplies to increase the efficiency of investigations
Chief Kenneth Ball, Akron Police Chief, states, “The Akron Police Department is thrilled to receive this grant. The process was very competitive. Our selection represents an organizational goal of providing the very best services for crime victims and our community. There are still challenges ahead, but this is a very positive step toward securing justice in these cases.”
Currently, APD doesn’t have adequate staffing to support a comprehensive response to cold case sexual assault cases. Beginning in 2012, the Akron Police Department began assessing every sexual assault kit collected since 1993 in order to submit or re-submit the kits for DNA testing under the 2011 Ohio Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Testing Initiative. All SAKs in APD’s inventory were submitted and returned.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) has tested and returned 1,822 tested sexual assault kits (SAKs) to the Akron Police Department (APD)—847 of which returned a CODIS eligible profile—from cases 1 year or older. 975 kits did not return a DNA profile, but additional evidence (clothing, linens, etc.) may exist that could be tested. There is a great need to provide follow up investigation for all kits and—where possible and desired by the victim—prosecution.
Mayor Dan Horrigan added, “This is an amazing accomplishment for our Akron Police Department. This will allow us to better meet the needs of victims of sexual assault and truly hold their abusers accountable.”