New SDPD website helps victims of sexual assault track rape kits – NBC 7 San Diego

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Suzanne Morse isn’t just the founder of an organization that helps victims of sexual assault; she is a survivor, herself, who can understand the struggles of others

“As a survivor, I can tell you that you’re going through trauma where you have PTSD,” said Morse, founder of Heartfelt Voices United.

Morse says PTSD can sometimes make it difficult for survivors to communicate with detectives working on their case.

“You think all the guys are staring at you and staring at you as you walk around. So a lot of times you don’t feel safe,” Morse said.

That’s why she and other victims’ rights advocates are applauding the new San Diego Police Department website that went live July 1.

It’s part of a state law that requires an anonymous way for victims of sexual assault to track the progress of their rape kit through the criminal justice system.

“I think it’s going to give them back some of their power,” Morse said. “And I think it’s a safe way to do it because they can do it from the comfort of their own home.”

Senate Bill 215 was passed last year due to a massive backlog of unprocessed rape kits in police departments across the country.

SDPD had a backlog of at least 1,800 tests.

Captain Brent Williams of the SDPD Crime Lab said that figure has now dropped to 300 kits which were taken before 2016.

He expects the backlog to be cleared by August next year.

“So what is a game-changer is that we have a new database and a new management system that helps us better manage these cases and these kits,” Captain Williams said. “And now everyone who arrives is tested.”

California State law requires these kits to be processed within 120 days.

Advocates say it’s a step in the right direction to empower survivors and make their voices heard.

“It really says, ‘we’re listening, we’re going to do whatever we can.’ We can’t change what happened, but what we can do is do our best to hold perpetrators and rapists accountable for the harm they caused,” said Verna Griffin-Tabor, CEO of the Center for Community Solutions.

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