Commission on the Standardization of the Collection of Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations

Minutes of the Meeting of the Kit Transfer and Processing Subcommittee - July 14, 2014
Connecticut Hospital Association
Wallingford, Connecticut

Those in attendance: Laura Cordes, Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS); Jillian Gilchrest, CONNSACS; Brian Narkewicz, Connecticut State Police; Liz Swavola, Joyful Heart; Marielle Daniels, Connecticut Hospital Association; Joy Reho, Department of Emergency Sevices and Public Protection (DESPP) Forensic Science Laboratory; Jim Kenny, Vernon Police Department; Maureen Platt, State’s Attorney; Michelle Noehren, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW); Linda Cimino, Office of Victim Services (OVS); Denise Covington, OVS; Candide Fusco, OVS; Scott DeVico, DESPP.

Laura Cordes gave background on kit transfer and the historic confusion over the process. Joy Reho gave an update on the backlog at the crime lab. There are 34 kits currently on consumption backlog and 89 on DNA backlog. Maureen Platt discussed a new tactic being used by defense attorneys. Defendants must waive their right, or have the right to observe, consumption of DNA.

Laura Cordes introduced The Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization based in New York City and Los Angeles. They discussed their research in Connecticut on the backlog of kits at police departments. Of the police departments they surveyed, most jurisdictions didn't track kit info. During their conversations with police departments, they repeatedly heard that the police would like more training on the importance of testing kits and the dynamics of sexual assault, although police officers did frequently raise red flags about staffing shortages. They also heard that more multidisciplinary training would be beneficial.

Maureen Platt discussed the model of multidisciplinary teams used in cases involving children and domestic violence. There was a discussion about the protocols that are already in place regarding kit transfer and possibly a need to be more specific about what "reasonable time" to transfer means. The Joyful Heart Foundation also discussed that police departments expressed an interest in having the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) program expanded. Some people in attendance expressed an interest in knowing how many anonymous kits there are in SAFE versus non-SAFE hospitals. The Joyful Heart Foundation concluded their presentation by discussing what other cities are doing and legislation that has been enacted in other states.

The subcommittee discussed next steps including drafting a letter from the State's Attorneys to police departments to get a more accurate picture of the problem of kit backlog in Connecticut. It was discussed that the crime lab will be kept apprised in order to coordinate kit drop off with police departments. The subcommittee also discussed improving protocols and making them more specific. Maureen Platt agreed to draft a letter and the subcommittee will meet again before the September commission meeting to review findings from the survey and to further discuss protocols.