Rep. Cox spearheads funding for rape test kit tracking program

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Appropriations chair leads push to eliminate backlog


State Rep. Laura Cox, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, has taken the lead on securing funding to help victims of sexual assault track the progress of their rape cases.

Cox, of Livonia, spearheaded a presentation on Wednesday before the committee in support of a $4.3 million appropriation to fund the first four years of a program that will enable victims using a secure online program to track the progress of their rape kits as the kits are processed and the crime is investigated.

Cox said more than 11,000 untested rape kits were recovered from a closed Detroit Police storage facility in 2009. Since that time, officials have sought federal and state funding to have the kits tested so investigations may proceed. Cox, a former U.S. Customs Department officer currently serves on the Michigan Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Tracking and Reporting Commission. She pointed out that the problem of untested rape kits is not limited to one city.

“It is important to note this issue is not a Detroit-only issue,” Cox said. “Cities large and small have faced this problem as well. A recent statewide inventory of untested kits revealed at least 3,400 such kits outside of the city of Detroit. This situation impacts our entire state.”

Under the tracking system software, law enforcement agencies will update the status of the kit as it leaves the investigating agency, when it arrives at the lab for testing, the point at which analysis is complete and when the kit is returned to the investigating agency.  Victims will be able to log in through a secure portal and follow their kit as it progresses through the process.

Testimony indicated that 109 convictions have resulted thus far from testing the kits from Detroit, including a number of serial rapists who committed assaults in Michigan and other states as well.

The committee approved the bill and it now goes to the full House for consideration.