Worthy, UPS team up to track Detroit rape kits

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and UPS officials are expected to unveil a partnership Monday to track sexual assault kits as they move through the investigative process.

Their collaboration is the latest boost to the effort to clear a backlog in testing Detroit rape kits.

Since January, the prosecutor's office has been using UPS technology in a pilot program to track and monitor kits from new cases.

UPS provided the technology to help authorities create a more efficient chain of custody and provide greater accountability, officials said.

"Through UPS, we are seeing significant improvement in how sexual assault kits are handled in Wayne County," Worthy said in a statement. "There's a more cohesive process, and stakeholders are much more interconnected and responsive.

"I was impressed by UPS' ability to step in and help us resolve this pervasive issue."

Officials said they believe the partnership is the country's first of its kind to use technology to prevent kit testing backlogs.

"This is the only place we're doing this," said David Graves, a UPS spokesman in Atlanta. "We believe in what Kym Worthy and her team is doing."

Graves said the technology used to track the kits is similar to what the company uses to track the millions of packages it delivers daily.

"Each package is processed timely and it can be flagged if there's a problem," he said.

He also said the company is considering offering the technology to authorities in communities such as Toledo, Cleveland, Memphis and New York that also have backlogs in testing the sexual assault kits.

In 2009, more than 11,000 untested sexual assault kits were found in a Detroit Police Department property storage facility. Some dated back more than 30 years.

Worthy's office has received an outpouring of support to get the kits processed.

Last month, Detroit, Wayne County and state law enforcement agencies announced they were teaming up to expand a task force responsible for investigating and prosecuting leads from the kits. The task force will operate until 2017.

The Michigan State Police's forensic science division has been working with privately contracted laboratories to test the remaining assault kits. According to the task force, the majority have been tested; the remaining should be completed by the fall.

In early May, an international social media company donated $100,000 to help the effort to clear the backlog.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

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