You are here
The OSBI Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI)
In April 2017, then Governor Mary Fallin signed an executive order creating the Oklahoma Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE Task Force) which was renewed by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt in March 2019. An integral component of the SAFE Task Force’s work included an audit to determine the number of unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) in the possession of each law enforcement agency in the state. As of May 31, 2018, 312 law enforcement agencies responded to the audit reporting a total number of 7,270 unsubmitted sexual assault kits in their possession. Law enforcement agencies responding included 222 municipal law enforcement agencies, 67 sheriff’s offices, 6 tribal law enforcement agencies, and 17 other law enforcement agencies such as state and educational.
The State of Oklahoma has three accredited forensic laboratory systems, two of which are located in the largest municipal jurisdictions of the state—Oklahoma City and Tulsa. All other jurisdictions submit sexual assault kits to the state forensic laboratory at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). Approximately 2,200 untested SAKs identified by the initial audit of the Oklahoma SAFE Task Force fall under the responsibility of the OSBI forensic laboratory. The Tulsa Police Department and the Oklahoma City Police Department have implemented their own plans for analyzing untested SAKs in their respective jurisdictions. Tulsa Police Department is a SAKI site as well. In 2018, the City of Tulsa was awarded $1,523,037 through the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) FY18 National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) and another $2,047,390 SAKI grant in 2021 to address analyzing the unsubmitted SAKs from the Tulsa Police Department.
In 2019, the Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office (OAG) partnered with the OSBI to apply for similar grant funding through the BJA FY19 SAKI program. Their application was approved and the project was awarded $2.39 million. The OAG and OSBI continued the work of the Oklahoma SAFE Task Force and completed an inventory of unsubmitted SAKs utilizing the methods required by BJA’s SAKI. This included gathering additional data on reported SAKs, making contact with agencies that did not respond to the initial audit, and completing an inventory of partially tested SAKs. A partially tested SAK can be defined by BJA in their FY 21 National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative solicitation as: “A SAK that has only been subjected to serological screening, or that has previously been tested with non-CODIS-eligible DNA methodologies.”
The OSBI received an additional $2.5 million in October 2021 through the BJA’s FY21 SAKI grant. This grant provides funding for an investigative unit within the OSBI that focuses solely on the SAKI cases. The SAKI team focuses on using a trauma-informed, victim-centered approach when engaging with survivors, conducting thorough investigations, and ensuring survivors have appropriate access to advocacy support. This team, formed in January 2022, currently includes one Lieutenant, two special agents, two criminal intelligence analysts, one victim advocate, one physical evidence technician, and a variety of criminalists.
The SAKI team provides trauma-informed, victim-centered sexual assault response training across the state, directed towards law enforcement, victim advocates, medical personnel, and members of the legal community. This group offers resources to survivors such as counseling and medical help.
As of July 1, 2023, analysis has been completed on 1,772 cases, with 555 profiles entered into CODIS, resulting in 221 hits. Our goal as a SAKI team is to provide just resolution to these sexual assault cases while providing closure and support to sexual assault survivors. The SAKI team is committed to making a positive difference in not only the State of Oklahoma but nationwide by locating and prosecuting serial offenders.
This project was supported by Grant #2019-AK-BX-0008-SAKI awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.