UCPD's O'Connor chosen for group to improve sexual assault investigations

(File Photo/The Daily Campus)

University of Connecticut Police Chief Barbara O’Connor has been chosen to be part of a group compiled by Governor Dannel Malloy to review and improve the process of evidence in sexual assault investigations in the state.

The group has been assembled with the goal of “helping local and state law enforcement work hand-in-hand,” according to the press release. “The working group will make recommendations to standardize and facilitate the transfer, tracking and testing of evidence kits as well as address issues around victim notification.”

“The state has made substantial progress testing sexual assault kits that had previously gone untested for years,” according to the release. “In 2013, there were over 2,000 sexual assault kits in various states of analysis, while in 2015, there were approximately just 50 such kits being tested and reviewed.”

In 2015 Gov. Malloy signed a law that requires sexual assault evidence kits to go to the state crime lab and be processed within two months, according to the release. Kits for victims who submit anonymous evidence kits will be held for five years, according to the release.

"This a simple matter of justice that deserves our state's attention. We owe it to sexual assault survivors whose kits have languished to test each and every one," the Executive Director of the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Laura Cordes said in the release.  "The Governor's working group will be key to moving these cases forward and to improving the utilization of vital evidence in sexual assault investigations."

Last year the Commission on the Standardization of the Collection of Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations discovered that there were 879 sexual assault kits that had not been processed in the state of Connecticut, according to the release. At the beginning of March, about 659 of the kits were sent to be tested at the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory, according to the release.

“We look forward to being a part of the conversation on how to improve the processing of evidence in sexual assault cases submitted to the Connecticut Forensic Laboratory,” said Deputy Chief Hans Rhynhart.