AP NEWS

Akron police get $1 million to create team to work sexual assault cold cases

October 3, 2018

Akron police get $1 million to create team to work sexual assault cold cases

AKRON, Ohio – The Akron Police Department has been awarded nearly $1 million to create a team to investigate sexual assault cold cases.

The three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, will allow the city to create a multidisciplinary working group that will review, prioritize, investigate and prosecute sexual assault cold cases.

“The Akron Police Department is thrilled to receive this grant,” said Police Chief Kenneth Ball in a news release. “The process was very competitive. Our selection represents an organizational goal of providing the very best services for crime victims and our community. There are still challenges ahead, but this is a very positive step toward securing justice in these cases.”

The department doesn’t have the staffing needed to effectively handle the city’s backlog of cold cases, according to the release.

The new team members will be specially trained in a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach, which recognizes how victims are affected by trauma and avoids re-traumatizing them through the investigation.

The grant will pay for:

three investigators and partial funding for an administrative assistant, a victim advocate, and a prosecutor;a case-management system  designed for cold case, sexual-assault kit investigations that’s compatible with databases in the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office and the City of Akron Prosecutor’s Office;technology and supplies to increase the efficiency of investigations.

“This is an amazing accomplishment for our Akron Police Department,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said in the release. “This will allow us to better meet the needs of victims of sexual assault and truly hold their abusers accountable.”

In 2012, the police department began assessing all sexual-assault kits collected since 1993 to submit for DNA testing under Ohio’s 2011 Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative. Under the initiative, Akron sent 1,822 sexual-assault kits that were one year or older for DNA testing to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Of those kits, 847 returned an eligible profile from a database of digital records of DNA results collected from crime scenes, felons and felony suspects. An additional 975 kits didn’t correspond with an existing DNA profile, but evidence from a crime, such as clothing or linens, was available and could be tested.

Want more Akron news? Sign up for cleveland.com’s Rubber City Daily, an email newsletter delivered at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday

AP RADIO
Update hourly