The Governor signed legislation Monday to help Oklahoma law enforcement investigate sexual assault crimes by creating a statewide tracking system for sexual assault evidence collection kits. Sen. Kay Floyd (D-Oklahoma City) is the author of Senate Bill 967, and was a member of the 2017 Oklahoma Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE).
“The task force agreed a major challenge solving sexual assault cases was that law enforcement agencies around the state were using tracking systems that weren’t compatible with other systems. There needed to be a consistent process to investigate and solve these sexual assault cases,” said Floyd. “By having one tracking system, law enforcement will be able to cross-reference thousands of crimes and DNA samples to solve more cases and prevent future sexual assaults.”
SB 967 directs the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s (OSBI) Criminalistics Services Division to create a statewide electronic tracking system for rape kits including those found in the 2017 statewide audit. It will track a kit’s location and whether it has been processed. By January 1, 2020, all law enforcement agencies, forensic labs, medical providers and others in the state who have custody of rape kits will be required to participate in the tracking system. The system will also be accessible anonymously by victims.
“Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of rape and attempted rape in the nation. This new tracking system will better ensure that all kits are tested and DNA collected, and will provide more accessibility for allowing victims to track their kits,” said Floyd. “Most rapists will commit multiple crimes, typically until they’re caught. Having this DNA evidence in one statewide system will hopefully help solve more cases and provide some peace to the victims knowing their assailant is no longer walking free.”
SB 967 will go into effect July 1, 2019.