Flint, Michigan, police are getting a financial boost from the U.S. Department of Justice to assist in the processing of sexual assault kits. News of the $1,650,361 grant came on Friday from Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI).
“I am proud to announce this important grant for the people of Flint,” Kildee said via a press release. “The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative not only gives law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to investigate crimes but brings justice to survivors of sexual assault in our community. With this grant, our community will be able to better identify predators and prevent future violent crimes.”
The grant money will aid in addressing kits that have not been tested by a forensic lab, improve outcomes of investigations, further expand the DNA profiles of offenders, and help the relationship between investigators and subjects.
Currently, Michigan’s rape kit backlog stands at 1,177. Kildee says some of them are close to 30 years old. Though the count is high, it represents a steep decline from when that number stood at the tens of thousands.
Over the years, Michigan has made a conscious effort to address its handling of sexual assault cases. Last year the state established a statewide rape kit tracking system, Track-Kit. Survivors are able to use the system to check the status of their kits and hospitals, law enforcement, and labs are able to work together effectively throughout the process
In 2015, Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy decided along with 100 Black Detroit women to raise the nearly $650,000 needed to finish testing the kits that were backlogged in DC. The African-American 490 Challenge, as they called it, referred to the $490 it takes to test each kit.
Fans of Erykah Badu may remember that in 2016, the songstress, in conjunction with the Right Productions company, donated proceeds from her Detroit concert to the initiative. At the time, there was over 11,300 untested rape kits which were found in a Detroit Police Department storage unit in 2009.