KCPD crime lab director addresses rape kit backlog

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On Tuesday, Linda Netzel, the director of KCPD's crime lab, addressed a preliminary report from an audit Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley conducted that indicates there are nearly 5,000 untested rape kits across the state. 

"But my peers have reported anywhere from zero kits in backlog to 200 kits in backlog, so where the remaining thousands are coming from has to be from the agencies in their storage facilities," Netzel said.

The report showed the longest average turnaround time for rape kits was 211 days at KCPD's crime lab.

But Netzel explained to the Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday that has to do with the way law enforcement agencies around the state prioritize rape cases.  

In Kansas City, Missouri, homicides, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults are at the same level, Netzel said. 

Netzel also raised eyebrows over the audit's line of questioning.

"What they didn't ask is how many sex offenses did the laboratory work, which was 187. I think some of my peers in the state actually answered not just kits, they answered the question differently," Netzel said.

This comes as the total backlog at the KCPD crime lab is actually trending significantly downward.

 

Netzel attributes this success to her staff who are constantly searching for ways to operate more efficiently, including by bringing in new technology and applying for grants.

She added that this summer the lab will be using a new method that's more sensitive in detecting male DNA in rape cases. The lab believes this will help improve the turnaround time for those rape kits. 

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