Nearly 1,200 untested rape kits were found in the Oakland Police Department during the audit by the office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, recently. Oakland has the highest number of rape kits untested after the San Diego police department in California.
The untested kits found on the Oakland department amount to nine percent of the total untested rape kits found in the entire country. Law enforcement agencies have found a total of 14,000 untested kits across California. Out of the 1,197 untested kits found in the Oakland department, 41 are from cases filed before 2016. The majority of the kits were in connection with reports filed before 2006, said police spokesman Paul Chambers.
What did the internal review find?
The internal review of Oakland found that 957 of the 1,197 cases had legitimate, articulated, and documented reasons as to why the kits were not tested. Thus 80 percent of the kits found in Oakland were related to cases that were unfounded, already adjudicated in court, or involved a victim that didn't want the kit tested or declined to cooperate with the case. However, out of the 240 rape kits, 169 needed further review, Chambers said.
Further explaining the details, he said that out of 169 cases that needed review, 78 were filed between 1988 and 1999, and 91 kits were between 2000 and 2006. It can be noted that in 2017, California eliminated the statute of limitations for most sexual assault cases.
The audit was undertaken as per AB3118, a 2018 law. As per this law, a one-time review of all untested rape kits held by California law enforcement agencies, medical centers, and crime labs, as well as other facilities was to be made. The report of the attorney general was published on April 20. But due to coronavirus outbreak and steps needed to contain the spread of the virus, the issue was sidelined.
Of the other departments where untested rape kits were found, San Diego topped the list with 1,627 kits. About 841 untested kits were found at the Richmond Police Department, 255 at the Fairfield Police Department, and 323 reported at the San Mateo County Department.
But cities including San Francisco and Berkeley reported zero untested rape kits. Of the total number of untested rape kits found in California, 35 percent were not tested because the victim declined prosecution. Around 29 of them were left as the officials found the case was not prosecutable, stated the audit report.