SAKI TTA Recommendations for Effective Practices
The National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Training and Technical Assistance (SAKI TTA) Team recognizes the importance of implementing effective practices when developing a multidisciplinary response to sexual assault. Through consultation with an extensive group of subject matter experts and our continued work with jurisdictions engaged in sexual assault response reform, the SAKI TTA Team has developed the following recommendations.
Considerations for Optimal Timeframes for DNA Forensic Evidence Collection from Sexual Assault Cases
This resource provides the SAKI TTA Team's recommendation specific to outlining an optimal timeframe for DNA evidence collection in sexual assault cases. Collecting evidence in a timely manner ensures sexual assault victims are treated with proper care and can increase the likelihood of positively influencing criminal justice outcomes.
Core Standards for Sexual Assault Investigations
This document covers practices and procedures that should be undertaken during every sexual assault investigation. It is intended to assist law enforcement investigators and supervisors to ensure that critical steps within the investigative process are addressed and properly documented and that nationally accepted practices are followed.
Medical History and Law Enforcement Interviews: Separate and Collaborative
This resource describes the distinct roles and responsibilities of a law enforcement officer as an investigator and a sexual assault nurse examiner as a health care provider. Furthermore, this document outlines the SAKI TTA Team's recommendations to keep these two types of victim interactions separate and collaborative.
Stay tuned for additional recommendations focused on sexual assault investigation and investigator standards, unfounded cases, anonymous SAKs, and more.
The SAKI TTA recommendations align with other national recommendations put forth by U.S. Department of Justice agencies, including the National Institute of Justice and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), which can be viewed in the resources below.
National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach
The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) working group, consisting of subject matter experts selected by the National Institute of Justice, created the best practices guide "National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach". This resource provides guidance about several sexual assault issues, including - but not limited to - the medical forensic exam, investigative considerations, sexual assault kit (SAK) crime laboratory processing and analysis, and policy considerations. The SAKI program aligns with these recommendations because it provides a holistic approach to sexual assault response reform. SAKI TTA recognizes the overlap between current case and cold case sexual assault; with this in mind, SAKI TTA has created resources to specifically support implementing the recommendations presented in this guide. Visit the SAKI Toolkit (www.sakitta.org/toolkit) to view resources to support the SAFER Act recommendations.
SAK Testing Initiatives and Non-investigative Kits
This OVW whitepaper presents rationale that cautions against submitting SAKs for forensic laboratory testing if the victim has not reported the sexual assault to law enforcement or has not consented to SAK submission for testing. Testing anonymous or non-investigative SAKs without victim consent undermines victim rights, may cause further trauma or negatively impact victim healing, and weakens trust with the criminal justice system. Anonymous or non-investigative SAKs may contain probative evidence that could potentially strengthen serial offender cases; however, OVW encourages jurisdictions to make decisions about SAK testing that honor victim rights and needs, including respecting a victim's decision to delay or forego reporting the sexual assault or receiving consent prior to submitting the SAK for testing. The SAKI TTA Team supports OVW's position and emphasizes that anonymous and non-investigative SAKs must not be submitted for testing or tested without victim consent. Furthermore, the SAKI TTA Team provides guidance and resources to support strategies that criminal justice professionals can use to draft policies and practices that encourage victim reporting and support effective investigations.