Portland police launch sexual assault evidence tracking system
An online system that allows survivors of sexual assaults in Portland to track the progress of their evidence testing is expected to be available statewide in mid-2020.
The Sexual Assault Management System Victim Portal developed by the Portland Police Bureau has been active since May. It is an online portal where survivors of sexual assaults can track the status of their Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence kits.
"Being able to provide survivors with access to real time updates is a tremendous leap forward in improving our victim-centered approach in these investigations," said Chief Danielle Outlaw. "We are excited to be able to share this innovative technology throughout the state."
The system, also called the SAMS Victim Portal, was developed and launched in response to House Bill 4049, which was passed by the 2018 Oregon Legislature and requires law enforcement agencies to give survivors anonymous access to the current status and past progress of their sexual assault kits.
The 2018 law grew out of Melissa's Law, which the Legislature passed in 2016 and is named after 14-year-old Melissa Bittler, who was assaulted and killed by a serial rapist across the street from her family's Northeast Portland home in December 2001.
At the time of her death, sexual assault kits from at least two other young victims attacked by the same rapist four years earlier sat unprocessed on evidence shelves at Portland Police Bureau. They were tested only after detectives investigating Bittler's case noticed similarities in the attacks and sent the kits to the forensic lab for testing.
Sexual assault kits typically contain hair and body fluids from the victim and in some cases, similar samples from the attacker, which can be used to identify a DNA profile.
The law, which took effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires police to pick up a kit within seven days after notification from a hospital and submit it to forensic lab for testing within 14 days.
State lawmakers boosted state police's budget by $1.5 million specifically to add nine new positions to help with processing the kits.
The portal was developed in 2018 by the bureau's IT Department in collaboration with the bureau's Sex Crimes Unit, and was funded by a Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant.
Survivors receive their SAFE kit number with their discharge paperwork from the hospital. That number can be entered in the website to receive real time updates on the status of their kit. Once the number has been entered, the screen displays a diagram showing the kit's progress and current status.
The results are not available online.
According to the bureau, the portal was specifically designed with the survivor's privacy in mind and therefore does not require login information so users can remain completely anonymous. In addition, the portal only displays the status of the kit and does not provide any sensitive or personal information.
You can find the website at https://trackit.osp.oregon.gov.
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