In many communities across the country, including Los Angeles, rape kit evidence sent to local police department crime labs for analysis is typically subject to long delays in processing. These delays can be as long as six months to a year. Some rape kits are stored in crime lab freezers and are never opened. The failure to open kits and the delays in processing this evidence hamper investigations and jeopardize public safety. High-recidivism sex offenders who could possibly be identified and arrested in the early stages of an investigation through the use of forensic DNA technology often remain at large in the community, where they can commit more crimes.
To address this problem, the Rape Treatment Center is collaborating with the California Department of Justice, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and other law enforcement agencies on an innovative pilot program called Fast Track Forensics (FTF). The FTF Program speeds up the processing of selected DNA evidence in sexual assault cases.
Through the FTF Program, the RTC is able to send evidence collected during a victim's medical/forensic examination directly to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) DNA Laboratory for immediate processing. The evidence is analyzed within four days. If biological evidence is found, the crime lab attempts to obtain a DNA profile which can then be uploaded into the state and federal DNA offender databases to search for a cold hit or a case-to-case match.
The FTF Program is demonstrating the benefits of rapid analysis of rape kit evidence for criminal investigations and public safety.