SAPD addresses audit findings on delayed processing of rape kits

SAN ANTONIO – When a sexual assault happens, and a survivor gets an exam, that evidence is passed through the San Antonio Police Department.

In 2019, a state law was passed mandating law enforcement to process the evidence and get it to the lab within 30 days.

The process involves some movement. Once evidence is collected at a hospital, an SAPD courier picks up the kits and takes them to the SAPD Property Room to be processed. Then within 30 days, the same courier must pick up the kits and take them to the Bexar County Lab.

On Monday, the city council heard about an audit report finding that between October 2021 and September 2023, almost 10 percent, or 117 of SAPD’s kits, went beyond that 30 days.

Naturally, that caused concern within the city council.

“We know these are very critical to a lot of people involved in these situations,” said District 9 Councilman John Courage.

SAPD leadership assured them there was never an actual backlog.

“It was maybe at 40 days or 45, they were picked up and sent over to the Bexar County Laboratory for testing. So it wasn’t a shelf full of old kits just sitting there. None of the cases were affected negatively as far as admissibility. All the cases have been sent over to the DA’s office,” said SAPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Washington Moscoso.

At Monday’s council meeting, SAPD Captain Rene Gallegos said they received some of the audit results back in March and April, immediately reviewed their process, and made changes.

One thing they noticed was they only had one courier to transport the kits.

“If they’re sick, on vacation, whatever it was, then that pick up wasn’t done. To make that system more effective and efficient, we have a backup and then now there’s also a secondary backup,” Moscoso said.

The next change had to do with their two different computer systems.

“They thought they were within the 30 days because they checked it off on the management system. But the property room uses a separate system,” Moscoso explained.

That system more accurately tracks the number of days.

In addition, the unit used to give bi-weekly reports, but now they come weekly, which offers more oversight and communication.

“I peeked at the report this morning. Everything that’s on the list here went in the last seven or so. So, not even close to the 30-day mark anymore,” Gallegos said.

In the coming months, there will be a follow up to see how the changes are working.

“If you can let us know that their follow-up process is working more efficiently, then that’s all I ask,” Courage said.

It was also asked that SAPD present this information to the city’s Public Safety Committee so they could be involved in procedure and follow-ups.

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