Michigan State Police have formed a specialized laboratory unit at its Northville Forensic Science Laboratory that will focus on processing criminal sexual assault kits from across southeast Michigan.
The new unit will include a team of DNA experts and is expected to be operational this summer.
"Sexual assaults are one of the most traumatic crimes committed," said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police. "We are creating this new specialized unit because we need to ensure we are doing all we can to be quick and comprehensive in our response to these crimes."
MSP Director of Forensic Science, John Collins, said the sexual assault kits are one of the most complex types of evidence submitted to MSP laboratories.
"Evidence items contained in these kits are collected directly from the traumatized victims in a medical environment," Collins said. "It’s not good enough for our laboratories to be experts at testing rape kits, we need to fully understand and appreciate every nuance and detail that can possibly bring offenders to justice."
MSP officials believe this can be achieved though specialization.
"There are some emerging technologies and methods that will accelerate the production of this unit in the coming months and years," said Collins.
Since 2009, MSP has been assisting the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office with their efforts to improve the overall response to sexual assaults.
MSP’s new Sexual Assault Response Unit is expected to play an important role in this effort by working with the laboratory staff and the specially trained sexual assault nurses who collect the evidence from the victims.