TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement put in motion a new tool that will allow victims of sexual assault to track the progress of their evidence collection kits (SAKs).
According to FDLE, the new tool will be used across 41 counties served by regional operation centers in Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola, as well as counties served by the Pinellas County and Indiana River crime laboratories.
Based on a law passed in 2021, the state required law enforcement to submit SAKs to labs within 30 days and created a 120-day mandatory turnaround time for kit testing. The 2021 legislation, Gail’s Law, took things a step further and gave survivors the power to know the status of their kits throughout the process.
“Survivors of sexual assault have traditionally had to wait too long for information about the status of their kits,” FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass said in a statement. “This new database tracking system will allow them to log into a portal for their kit and determine that status. If the system records a DNA match, they will be notified. Users control when and how they receive alerts and can see when laboratory testing is complete.”
Grant funding allowed the FDLE to purchase the STACS Track-Kit, joining dozens of states who have also adopted or intend to implement the online software.
“In 2019, Florida eliminated the backlog of untested sexual assault kits, and today’s announcement is the next, great step forward in supporting victims of sexual assault and empowering survivors to keep track of the evidence in their case as law enforcement and prosecutors fight for justice,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement.
The FDLE reported that since launching the software as a pilot project in northwest Florida last year, the agency has added more than 400 kits to the database.
Access to the kit tracking system will expand statewide by July 2023.