Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announces that the Attorney General's Sexual Assault Kit Commission has unanimously approved a new recommended submission policy for sexual assault kits in Ohio.
"The new policy is fairly simple: if a crime was committed, the kit should be submitted," said Attorney General DeWine. "If a crime probably occurred, law enforcement should submit the kit for testing. Whether the case is ever prosecuted is a decision down the road. This is a good policy for victims, and it's a good policy for the law enforcement system."
The policy also recommends law enforcement agencies submit old kits they may have in their possession. The Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) has an action plan to handle those old cases.
Sexual Assault Kit Commission Recommended Submission Policy
The new policy includes key points:
If a sexual assault occurred, the kit should be submitted, regardless of whether a case is ever prosecuted.
The kit should be submitted unless it's abundantly clear no crime was committed.
The presumption in favor of testing ensures that sex offender DNA will be uploaded into the state and federal law enforcement databases.
Law enforcement agencies that have old kits (that fit the new recommended criteria for submission) should submit those kits now, no matter what the date of collection.
Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Action Plan
Currently, 50 percent of sexual assault kits are submitted to Ohio crime labs. When this new policy is followed, we expect that number to jump to 90 percent. BCI is prepared to dedicate whatever resources are necessary to process additional kits.
To handle old kits, BCI is starting a new unit, with four forensic scientists, that will process those kits exclusively. This new unit will be able to handle 1,500 outstanding cases in the first year and 3,000 cases every year after that.
Ohio Attorney General's Expanded, Victim-Focused Law Enforcement Training
The Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) will enhance current sexual assault training courses to emphasize law enforcement interaction with victims, victim's advocates, and medical personnel. Also, OPOTA and the Attorney General's Crime Victim Section are producing an online eOPOTA course to bring victim-focused training to every officer in Ohio. The option to do this training online means it's available anytime to any officer free of charge.
The Sexual Assault Kit Commission, chaired by Steve Schumaker, Deputy Attorney General for Law Enforcement, met three times this year before today's vote on a new recommended policy.
December 5, 2011