News » Citydesk

IPT: First Audit of Rape Kit Submissions to Idaho Crime Lab Completed

by

A sample rape kit from the Idaho State Police lab. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • A sample rape kit from the Idaho State Police lab.
Following a series of investigative reports from the Idaho Press-Tribune in November 2015, state lawmakers put in place new rules to accelerate rape kit processing and put in place an audit that would provide a reconciliation of the status of each package of evidence.

The legislation was prompted by revelations published in the Press-Tribune that the Caldwell Police Department had sent only 65 percent of its rape kits to the Idaho State Police Forensics Lab for testing, while Nampa had forwarded 10 percent of its rape evidence kits for testing.

"This legislation needed multiple rewrites," Rep. Melissa Wintrow (D-Boise) told Boise Weekly in April, "and it came in at the 11th hour, just under the wire, to get consideration. Keep in mind that nothing like this had ever been tried before in Idaho."

The deadline for the first audit was Monday, Oct. 31 and, on Thursday morning, the Press-Tribune reported 165 previously untested rape kits—38 in Caldwell, 111 in Nampa and 16 at the Canyon County Sheriff's Office—were still being held at their respective law enforcement offices and needed to be submitted to the ISP for testing.

During a visit to the ISP Forensics Lab in April, Director of Forensic Services Matthew Gamette told BW, "The public should know that there were no rape kits here at the forensics lab that were backlogged or not tested. We simply didn't have them because they had not been sent here"

Gamette oversees labs in the Treasure Valley, Coeur d'Alene, Pocatello and Twin Falls. The Meridian crime lab serves all of the Treasure Valley, while the Coeur d'Alene lab handles everything north of Adams and Valley counties. The Pocatello lab serves eastern and southern Idaho, including Twin Falls.

Still, all DNA cases are forwarded to and worked at the Meridian lab.

The Legislature is expected to receive and review the details of the first statewide audit when it convenes in January 2017.