Attorney General Andy Beshear is co-hosting a national workshop for nearly 20 states that are handling the testing of un-submitted Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) Kits and working to investigate and prosecute these cases.
The two-day training – Aug. 6-7 – will support Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) programs across the country, like Kentucky’s, that have state and federal funding to make communities safer and provide justice to victims.
In 2017, Beshear established a SAKI cold case unit in his office from a three-year U.S Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance nearly $3 million grant.
Kentucky’s unit, like others attending the training, focuses on ensuring all kits are tested and investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults while providing key services to victims during the cold case process.
“We are looking forward to co-hosting this training and learning valuable knowledge from other states who are working hard like Kentucky to help seek justice for victims of sexual assault,” Beshear said. “Together we can make a difference for not only the survivors of the crimes already committed, but for future generations as we pledge to understand the value of testing every kit and reform our efforts accordingly.”
Beshear’s SAKI cold case unit is co-hosting the event with the SAKI Training and Technical Assistance Team, which contracts with RTI International – a policing and forensic nonprofit, to assist law enforcement in the submission and processing of un-submitted SAFE kits. Dr. Kevin Strom, director of RTI’s policing research program, will speak at the start of the training Aug. 6.
Beshear said the federal funding for Kentucky and other states attending the training is helping to identify and prosecute cases as these previous un-submitted SAFE kits are being tested. A Louisville man was indicted in July as a result of DNA from a Kentucky tested kit.
In 2016, Beshear provided $4.5 million in settlement money to lawmakers to fund requested Kentucky State Police (KSP) crime lab upgrades and an additional $1 million from the settlement to aid law enforcement and prosecutors in conducting victim-centered investigations and prosecuting sexual assault offenders.
In 2017, Beshear transferred $45,000 of interest accumulated to date from the settlement to help further fund the KSP crime lab.
To further help victims, Beshear’s office has held multiple statewide SAFE kit trainings, created a Survivors Council and collaborated with Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (KASAP) to hold the #VoiceOfJustice video contest to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus.
In June 2018, Beshear and KASAP joined forces once again when Beshear’s office provided $30,000 in drug settlement funds to help KASAP create and administer a statewide program to train hospitals on how to provide legally required services to victims of sexual assault.
Beshear’s office launched a collaborative research project with the University of Louisville to provide SAFE kit accountability.
Dr. Brad Campbell with the University of Louisville and the principal researcher on this SAKI project funded by Beshear’s office is collecting baseline data in cases associated with un-submitted kits and will examine connections of tested cases, evaluate pre-arrest decisions, evaluate training efforts, study the impact of legislation and provide evidence-based policy recommendations.
Dr. Deborah Keeling, associate dean of faculty affairs and former chair of criminal justice at U of L, will speak at the start of the training Aug. 6 and will introduce Beshear.
States participating in the training include Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the Portland, Oregon Police Bureau.
The media is welcomed to attend the opening remarks of Drs. Strom and Keeling and AG Beshear from 8 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. at the University of Louisville’ Shumaker Research Building, 2210 South Brook Street.