Nearly 250 unprocessed sexual assault kits were discovered in a Flint, MI police department evidence room after being examined with help of a reality TV show, police said Thursday.
Some of the kits date back as far as 2003.
Since there discovery, 71 kits that have been tested helping to identify six possible suspects, police Chief James Tolbert said.
The kits, which are assembled by hospital staff and contain biological evidence such as DNA, were brought to Tolbert’s attention after he joined the department in 2013. Officials have been working since then to get them processed.
Flint’s state-appointed emergency manager in February signed an agreement with TNT’s Cold Justice to give the show’s production company access to evidence, police reports and interrogation information associated with the kits.
Kathryn Vaughan, executive producer of D and J Productions, said Cold Justice: Sex Crimes will look at cold cases involving rape, sexual assault and abuse. It’s set to start July 31. Some who were assaulted in Flint will be involved in the show, she said.
Police have long since been implicated in failing to fulfill their duties in regards to investigations of sexual assault, rape, and child-sexual abuse.
A recent report looking into the New Orleans Police Department found officers charged with investigating sex crimes failed to pursue 86 percent of reported cases.
Prepared by the city’s inspector general, Edouard R. Quatrevaux, the report found that 840 of 1,290 reported sex crime cases where shelved by New Orleans police detectives from 2011 to 2013.
The report also found that of the 450 cases that were investigated, no documentation outside of an initial report was found for 271 of them. The report describes how victims’ charges of sexual assault were ignored, referrals from medical personnel were dismissed, and evidence was not processed.
In some cases the detective would mark down in a report that evidence had been sent to the state laboratory, though no records could be found that the laboratory received anything.
Several other U.S. cities have large backlogs on rape kit testing, due in part to what experts say is the high cost of testing. In Detroit, authorities recovered more than 11,000 unprocessed rape kits at a police storage facility in 2009.
In the case of the Flint, MI police department, Cold Justice has been paying to process the tests.