Seattle police to test stored rape kits for DNA

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Police Department will test a backlog of 1,276 untested rape kits currently held in storage, the department announced Thursday.

The department has collected 1641 rape kits during the past decade, of which 365 have been tested by the state crime lab, the SPD said.

Previously only kits where charges have been filed were tested. New police chief Kathleen O'Toole has reportedly made it a priority to test the backlog kits.

"We will test all sexual assault kits moving forward and begin addressing untested kits," Captain Deanna Nollette said in a press release. "We'll work with our partners to ensure that what we are doing is the gold standard."

Sexual assault victims generally undergo a forensic examination for the purpose of collecting evidence left by a suspect such as blood, saliva, or semen. Medical staff conducting the examination preserves evidence using a sexual assault examination kit, commonly referred to as a rape kit. The kit contains combs, swabs, blood collection devices, and documentation forms, the department said.

According to the Seattle Times, there is a backlog of untested kits in Seattle and nationwide, largely due to the cost of DNA testing, ranging from $500 to $1,500 per kit.