Local News

Turns Out There’s Value in Testing Rape Kits — Voice of San Diego

Illustration by Adriana Heldiz

Succumbing last year to political pressure, the San Diego Police Department agreed to send hundreds of untested rape kits to an outside lab. Officials had argued initially that the kits didn’t have investigative value. 

But the results from those kits are coming in. And it turns out, they do have investigative value.

Andrew Keatts reports that a third of the kits analyzed so far contain a DNA profile that the department has since added to state or federal databases used to solve crimes. 

By state law, all kits collected since 2016 must be tested to help identify unknown offenders or connect cases. For years, advocates have argued that officials owe it to sexual assault victims who subjected themselves to the invasive and lengthy procedures. 

SDPD resisted those calls but changed its position in 2019 after District Attorney Summer Stephan intervened in response to another story by Keatts showing that the city’s crime lab had used a lower standard to help get through its backlog faster. The head of the crime lab left the department following the revelation. 

An SDPD spokesman said the cases associated with the newfound DNA profiles have been handed to a cold case sex crimes team. He also said it was difficult to judge the department’s policies today against what it was doing five or 10 years ago.

The Bill Packages Have Arrived

Friday was the (soft) deadline for state lawmakers to submit new bills in the current session (these things are malleable, says the journalist) and Sara Libby’s got a roundup in the Sacrament Report.

Several members of the San Diego delegation are carrying legislation aimed at addressing climate change, although not all of them are viewed favorably by environmentalists. Sen. Ben Hueso has pot on his mind. Sen. Brian Jones wants to keep churches open during emergencies. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez wants to boost warehouse worker protections. And so on.

Meanwhile, the state’s public utilities regulator is warning that energy costs are going to skyrocket and the poorest San Diegans are going to get hit the hardest. 

Politics Roundup

  • Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby (otherwise known as LKL, or LK-ULTRA in clandestine circles) volunteered at a local vaccination super site. They shared their experiences on the podcast and talked about the race to replace Shirley Weber in the 79th Assembly District with an assist from VOSD contributor Bella Ross, who wrote about it last week
  • KPBS concluded that residents in wealthier and whiter ZIP codes — which have far lower rates of COVID-19 than poorer areas — are nonetheless much more likely to have been vaccinated

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.