(Springfield, Mo.) The Springfield Police Department is making a major commitment to testing more evidence collected from cases of sexual assault after Josh Hawley's investigation into finding a backlog of untested rape kits.
But while the crime lab is working to fix the problem authorities are continuing to discuss how to prevent this from happening again in the future.
"Investigating rape is a very important crime that we want to investigate and it’s a priority to get these rape kits we haven’t tested, get them in, get them tested, and see what the results are," explains Lt. Culley Wilson, Criminal Investigation Section, Springfield Police Department.
Lt. Wilson says authorities have sent more untested rape kits from the Springfield area to be examined in a lab.
"The FBI had this program step in try to help departments and we took advantage of that. We have 30 kits now with the FBI right so which we were at 267 untested kits we’re now down to 237."
This is new information into Josh Hawley's investigation about ending the backlog of over thousands of untested rape kits in Missouri.
(Lt. Culley) We should’ve been testing these kits, we should’ve had more of these tested, we should have zero kits and that’s our goal.
The results from a rape kit hold the key to getting predators off the streets. For victims, testing the kits brings them one step closer to justice.
"A sexual assault victim just the act itself is horrendous and there’s no easy way to bring the suspect justice for the victim it’s not easy, it’s very hard."
However authorities face challenges.
"Victims of sexual assault many times they may know who it is. They may know exactly what happened, but they mentally do not want to go through the process of getting it prosecuted."
Despite Springfield's initiative to clear its rape kit backlog, problems persist in the state's efforts to have DNA evidence tested in a more timely manner.
"We’re going to have to have patience to get this done just cause we want this done correctly and in the state lab they do a great job, but as I said they are going to be a little bog down with all of this."
If you're a victim of sexual assault and need resources, click here.