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SAKT Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What are sexual assault kits? (SAK's)

A sexual assault kit is a collection of swabs, envelopes, and instructions used to gather and preserve physical evidence from a person’s body following a report of a sexual assault. This evidence is collected by a medical professional that has been specially trained to identify, collect, and document the forensic evidence that might be found on the person’s body. 

After the kit is collected, what happens to it?

The medical professional will turn the SAK over to the law enforcement agency.  The law enforcement agency will submit the kit to a forensic laboratory if testing is required. 

Are all SAKs tested?

In the state of Oklahoma, statute dictates that all SAKs will be tested unless no report is made to law enforcement or if the victim requests the kit not be tested. 

Are all kits tested by the OSBI?

Oklahoma City and the city of Tulsa maintain their forensic laboratories in their police departments.  If a sexual assault occurs in either of these two cities, the SAK will be sent to their forensic laboratory.  OSBI is responsible for testing all other sexual assault kits.  If a kit has made it to a forensic lab, the sexual assault tracking system (https://sakt.osbi.ok.gov) will show you which laboratory received your kit for testing.

How long does it take to test a SAK once it is submitted to the OSBI forensic lab?

Currently, the average time for the OSBI to analyze a SAK and issue a report to law enforcement is 4-6 months.

Why does it take the OSBI so long to test a SAK?

The amount of time needed to process a SAK can vary widely depending on many factors. Testing a SAK is a multi-step process that includes screening for biological material, extracting DNA from stains or swabs, analyzing the DNA, producing a written report, and reviewing the entire process for errors. Each step is conducted systematically in an effort to avoid mistakes.  Currently, turnaround times at the OSBI forensic laboratory are higher than we would like.  Many factors have contributed to this, but know that the OSBI has created the “Specialized Forensic Biology Unit” whose sole responsibility is to do testing on sexual assault cases.  The OSBI has purchased new instrumentation that will decrease the turnaround time.  This new technology is going through the process of validation.  We plan to begin using it in casework starting in July 2020.  Additionally, five new biologists came on board in early 2020 to assist with sexual assault cases.  While time is needed to ensure they are fully trained, OSBI is working diligently to decrease the amount of time it takes to complete analysis on sexual assault cases. 

How can I find out the status of my kit and when it will be worked?

Contact the law enforcement agency that took your sexual assault report to obtain information about your kit.  Oklahoma statute, Title 74-150.5, does not allow the OSBI to share information about a case with anyone other than the submitting law enforcement agency.

What happens if DNA is found in the SAK?

If a DNA profile is obtained, it can be compared to offender profiles in CODIS (the national DNA database). If there is a match, often called a “hit,” the lab will confirm the results and notify the law enforcement department that submitted the evidence. Confirming a match found through a CODIS search can take an additional 15-30 days.  Alternatively, if law enforcement has a suspect and a known DNA sample is submitted from the suspect, a direct comparison between the DNA profile obtained from the SAK and the suspect can be performed. 

What is CODIS?

CODIS is the Combined DNA Index System, a system of national, state, and local databases managed by the FBI that allows forensic laboratories across the country to compare DNA profiles from known criminal offenders with biological evidence from crime scenes. 

If there is a CODIS hit, will the victim be informed?

The OSBI notifies the law enforcement agency after a hit is confirmed.  Any notification to the victim would come from the law enforcement agency that is handling the investigation. 

Does the victim’s DNA go into CODIS?

No.  The CODIS database is made up of DNA profiles from individuals convicted of or, in some states, arrested for particular crimes and also includes DNA profiles from crime scene evidence. 

How long are SAKs kept?

Oklahoma statute requires kits to be stored for 50 years, whether or not testing has been performed on the kit.

I’ve heard there’s a “backlog” of kits that haven’t been tested. What does that mean?

There is a lot of confusion about a “backlog” of untested sexual assault kits. Kits not submitted to a forensic lab for testing do not qualify as being “backlogged”; the term refers to the number of kits submitted to a lab for testing that have not yet undergone DNA analysis. Currently, the OSBI forensic laboratory has over 500 kits that are backlogged. This an increase from previous years, but is due in part to new laws that have passed requiring nearly all kits be submitted for analysis, in other words, more kits are being submitted for testing, which is a good thing and the desired outcome of this legislation.

What if I have decided I do not want my kit tested?

Contact the law enforcement agency that took your sexual assault report and let them know that you do not want your kit tested.  The law enforcement agency will contact the OSBI and let us know that the kit should not be analyzed.  The kit will still be stored by the law enforcement agency for 50 years. 

What if originally I did not want my kit tested, but have decided I now want my kit tested?

Contact the law enforcement agency that took your sexual assault report and let them know you want your kit tested.  The law enforcement agency will then submit your kit to the forensic laboratory for testing. 

Contact

Training Contact

Matt Stillwell
405-715-9530
matt.stillwell@osbi.ok.gov

Forensic Science Center

Attn: SAKT Unit
800 East 2nd Street
Edmond, OK  73034
Phone: 405-715-9530
Toll-free: 800-522-8253
Fax: 405-330-6974