State awards $2.7 million for sex assault kits in Las Vegas

The Board of Examiners on Tuesday awarded $2.7 million to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police to pay for testing backlogged sexual assault kits.

That follows the grant of $1.64 million to the Washoe County crime lab in October.

Most of the money — $3 million — was contained in legislation approved by the 2017 Legislature. Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office provided another $1.35 million in non-taxpayer settlement funds for the purpose of eliminating a backlog that totaled nearly 8,000 untested sexual assault kits — some of them decades old.

Of the 6,473 kits in Southern Nevada, 4,772 have been sent for DNA testing and 2,388 of them completed testing. In the north, 1,111 untested kits were in storage. More than 346 of them have been sent for testing and 223 completed testing.

Those DNA profiles, according to Laxalt, are then entered into the federal Combined DNA Index System which matches them to existing DNA samples form convicted felons.

Chief of Staff Nick Trutanich said as of August, testing has led to the DNA identification of sexual predators and resulted in 11 criminal prosecutions so far.

Laxalt said those awards have added nearly $4.5 million to the $3.68 million his office pledged in 2015. Those funds included $1.98 million in a Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant and $1.7 million in non-taxpayer settlement money

Since then, the state has received another $3.4 million in federal Justice Assistance grant money for the testing project. Those funds are all used to hire added staff at the state’s two forensic test labs and to pay for testing by outside labs.

Laxalt said mandatory testing of kits, including elimination of the backlog and timely testing of any new sexual assault kits, is key to giving a voice to survivors of sexual assault in Nevada.


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