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Funds to help Henderson police tackle backlog of sexual assault kits

The city of Henderson has received more than $77,000 to help its police department clear a backlog of 265 sexual assault kits.

These kits contain physical evidence that can lead investigators to identify suspects in sexual assaults. Across the country, there have been cases in various cities of large backlogs of kits being unprocessed.

According to Monica Moazez, a spokeswoman for the Nevada attorney general’s office, the office received $3.68 million to address this issue on a state level. She said the money came from two sources.

“The first type of funding comes from a settlement we received in a major case,” Moazez said. “We wrote language into the settlement agreement that allowed us to use the settlement for the rape kit initiative.”

In addition to the $1.75 million from that case, the office also got about $1.9 million from a federal grant.

The money will help clear more than 8,000 kits in the state. Moazez said Clark County has the bulk of the kits, with 5,600 untested.

Henderson Police Department Capt. Michael Johnston said the grant money will allow the city to join statewide efforts to clear years’ worth of backlogged kits, some of which in the Las Vegas Valley date back 30 years.

“I’m not sure how far back (the Henderson kits) go,” Johnston said.

Henderson will be using the money to also send its kits out.

Moazez said kits from Clark County will be sent off in batches. The first batch of about 1,000 was sent out in February.

“We should be getting results back this summer,” she said.

Each kit usually costs between $1,000 and $1,500 to test, but Moazez said a deal was made with the lab in Virginia processing the backlog.

“Since we are doing bulk testing, it will be about $650 per kit,” she said. “Because of that, we should be able to test all of them.”

Johnston said he wasn’t sure when the city will start sending out its kits.

“This will clear (Henderson’s) backlog,” he said.

Nationally, more than 100,000 sexual assault kits are estimated to be unprocessed.

To reach Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle, email mlyle@viewnews.com or call 702-387-5201. Find him on Twitter: @mjlyle.

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