Over the weekend Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank announced his department has been selected to undergo a federal review of how it handles sexual assault cases.
The Police Detective Research Forum and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women will conduct the review. Salt Lake City is one of four police departments nationwide to be selected. Police Detective Greg Wilking says it’s expected to take about a year to complete but there is no definitive deadline.
“They’re going to be looking to see what we do. Good, bad, indifferent,” Wilking says. “And they’re going to process that information and take it back and combine it with the information from the other cities involved in this study and come up with best practices for handling these kinds of cases.”
Following public scrutiny over the buildup of nearly 800 untested rape evidence kits in the department, Police Chief Chris Burbank announced the creation of a public database listing the cases associated with those kits online.
Detective Wilking says that effort to improve transparency likely piqued the interest of the research group and the DOJ.
“Our willingness to say to the public, these are the reasons why would and wouldn’t test a kit shows that we’re willing to try to answer the questions for the public so they have a better understanding of what goes into this,” Wilking says.
Chief Burbank defended the department back in May saying saying DNA tests are expensive and the state can take up to six months to process just one test but if there is a kit that needs to be tested to solve a case it will be tested.