The Virginia Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (VA SAKI) of the Virginia Office of the Attorney General (OAG), in partnership with the Virginia Department of Forensic Science (DFS) and the Virginia Department of State Police (VSP), has secured over $6 million in grant funds from the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The goal of SAKI is to enhance awareness regarding the importance of testing all sexual assault kits, build the capacity for trauma-informed responses to sexual crimes through multidisciplinary collaboration, and solve cold case sexual assaults and sexually motivated homicides.
Through the SAKI grants, Virginia has achieved significant progress in addressing sexual assault cases. The grants have allowed Virginia to accomplish the following:
- Establish and sustain a robust statewide multidisciplinary team since 2016, promoting collaboration among professionals from various fields involved in sexual assault cases.
- Develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive statewide sexual assault kit (known as Physical Evidence Recovery Kit or PERK in Virginia) tracking system in 2019, enhancing efficiency and coordination among victims, forensic nurses, victim advocates, law enforcement agencies, and crime labs.
- Eliminate the backlog of unsubmitted PERKs in 2020 and ensure that all PERKs are processed moving forward.
- Implement a cold case victim notification protocol and offer advocacy and support to victims and families, ensuring that those affected by cold case sexual assaults receive the necessary assistance and care.
- Provide ongoing training and technical assistance throughout the Commonwealth to law enforcement, prosecutors, and community partners who engage with sexual assault victims. This training enhances their skills and knowledge in trauma-informed support for victims.
- Conduct thorough investigations and analysis of cold case sexual assaults and sexually motivated homicides, aiming to bring justice to the victims and their families.
- Utilize advanced DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy techniques to identify perpetrators and resolve previously unsolved cases.
By undertaking these initiatives, Virginia has made significant strides in improving its response to sexual assault, enhancing victim support services, and holding offenders accountable.
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