The Sexual Assault Offense Initiative helps West Virginia to destroy arrears of rape equipment

MARTINSBURG, W.Va – There is a collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies, hospitals and doctors ensuring that all sexual assault cases in West Virginia are being processed well.

The number of rape pipes that are considered to have gone unchanged is emerging, but progress is being made by National Virginia Sexual Assault Kit Initiative on almost 2,400 kits testifying sexual assaults.

The authorities say that many of these appliances have never been installed in a laboratory, remain in hospitals or law enforcement offices.

"I will be honest with you. Funding is an issue," said Commander of Staff Services West Virginia State Police, Reginald Patterson.

Grant funding was a great help in moving this initiative forward, which is used to train counsel and victim officers. The West Virginia State Forensic Policing Laboratory administers the state's involvement with CODIS, which is the national database overseen by the FBI.

Some of the equipment in the system dates back to the late 1980s, just before the creation of modern technology or even before the FBI creates a CODIS.

While a crime laboratory at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, helps to test these sexual assault equipment, the issue remains.

"This is difficult to find out. You have 600 cases. Which one will start next," said Forensic Science Supervisor, David Miller. " Is the one who came in, or the one that was on the longest shelf?

State Police of West Virginia says that they will work aggressively to ensure that other law enforcement agencies know that the equipment needs to be submitted for testing.

To date, CODIS has met figures for the East Panhandle with Berkeley County, they stand by County 15 and Jefferson at two, meaning that the results were linked to the DNA profile of offenders in the database, or to evidence from another case.

In relation to victim advocates, they and the victims are pleased to end the backlog of unregulated rape equipment to provide some closure.

"All of these hours show a victim and it is wonderful to see this," said Rene Graves, Sexual Assault Kit Co-ordinator.

The target is to have the test uploads and CODIS completed by the end of the year.

Advocate Victim East Empowerment Center says Panhandle, Vivian Baylor, is important "to believe [victims] and to take them seriously. "

Each county is still progressing and no county is complete.

To note, there are more than 600 law enforcement agencies in West Virginia and they are all cooperating with this initiative voluntarily.

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