The state's new sexual assault kit tracking system is up and running. The system allows survivors to track their rape kits as they make their way through the system.
Survivors of sexual assault can use a website and a unique number to anonymously track their rape kits from when it's handed over from the medical professional to law enforcement to the testing facility and when the results are complete and sent back to law enforcement.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is responsible for operating the tracking system. It's part of a series of reforms recommended by an Oklahoma sexual assault task force.
“So they’ll be aware where the kit is and it’s not stuck somewhere sitting on a shelf waiting to be submitted,” explained Mistie Burris, the Criminalistics Administrator with the OSBI.
An audit back in 2018 revealed more than 7,000 rape kits across the state were untested and sitting in evidence rooms. The legislature passed the new law last year mandating the OSBI implement the tracking system by January 1.
The new law also mandates all kits be tested within 20 days after law enforcement receives it.
The OSBI recently hired five new biologists and now has a unit that only works on sexual assault cases.
“It’s definitely a priority to get these cases worked, we are putting a lot of manpower to make sure they are done timely,” said Burris.
The OSBI said they eventually want to get that backlog of untested kits into the tracking system and tested as well.