San Diego has close to 3,000 untested rape kits in police storage, the largest backlog of five cities profiled in a study released Tuesday.
The Joyful Heart Foundation uses public records requests to determine how many untested rape kits are sitting in police custody around the U.S.
The organization released data for five cities Tuesday: Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Portland, Oregon and San Diego.
Each of the four cities listed along with San Diego has fewer than 2,000 rape kits that have not been tested.
An exam performed on victims of sex crimes within 72 hours, a rape kit can help lead to identifying an attacker or a rapist. The kits can contain clothing, hair samples and swabs that may hold DNA evidence.
San Diego Police Lt. Scott Wahl said in a statement that the backlogs do not represent a backlog of evidence waiting for analysis. In a statement, he said:
"At any given time, there are fewer than 20 sex crimes cases waiting for processing in our laboratory. The San Diego Police Department takes every sex crimes case very seriously.
Every reported case is immediately investigated and evaluated by a Sex Crimes Detective. In every case, a review is done of all the evidence to determine the most appropriate strategy for processing.
The 2800 cases represent 25 years of rape kits that have been collected in sexual assault cases which were not forwarded to our crime laboratory for analysis.
Reasons for this may include, the victim no longer desires an investigation, it was determined during investigative follow up that a crime did not occur, or an analysis of the kit would yield a result that does not meet the Federal guidelines for input into the DNA database.”
Few states and no federal agencies require law enforcement to track the number of untested kits.
A recent audit suggested that California legislators should set a two-year deadline for the kits to be tested.
In San Diego, the evidence dates back to the early 1990s.