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New Durham PD Unit To Address Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Backlog

Rape kit supplies
Robert C. Reed
Hickory Daily Record

The Durham Police Department will soon have a fully staffed unit dedicated to investigating sexual assault cold cases.

In October, the department received a $1 million federal grant to address the backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits.

Lieutenant Stephen Vaughn estimates there are 1,300 kits that still need to be tested. Vaughn says this new unit will analyze the results of those kits and will also keep track of any future leads that come in, such as DNA matches.

“It’s not always about just dealing with the past but its also making sure we keep an eye on things so we don't have this problem again. But we also have someone in place to work the case when new information comes in,” said Lt. Vaughn.

So far the department has hired two full-time investigators to examine that evidence and is working to add a victim advocate and an assistant district attorney to the unit.

Additionally, the new unit will work with the existing Special Victims Unit on contemporary sexual assault cases. 

Celeste Gracia covers the environment for WUNC. She has been at the station since September 2019 and started off as morning producer.
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