The County of Santa Clara
California

Report
100241

Under advisement from May 8, 2018 (Item No. 13) and June 12, 2018 (Item No. 130): Receive report relating to testing of Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) kits. (Office of the District Attorney)

Information

Department:Office of the District AttorneySponsors:
Category:Report

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FISCAL IMPLICATIONS

There are no fiscal implications associated with the acceptance of this report.

REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION

Based on Board direction described in more detail in the Background section of this report, the District Attorneys Office (DAO) is providing this report as to the testing of SART kits that had been awaiting testing in the DAOs Crime Laboratory, the time required for processing SART kits, and other information in response to Board referrals related to SART kit testing.  This represented a fundamental shift in philosophy, with our Crime Lab committing to testing every SART kit presented in connection with a criminal case, in order to honor the survivors wishes and to reduce the possibility of a crime going unsolved.

Backlog

When the Board approved funding on June 12, 2018 to address the backlog, there were 269 SART kits awaiting processing at the Crime Lab.  All of these kits have now been tested and the backlog has been eliminated.

In June 2018, in accordance with the workplan laid out in the DAOs May 8, 2018 report, a dedicated SART kit testing team was established.  Prior to this change, kits assigned for DNA testing were assigned to Criminalists who were also responsible for other types of DNA analysis.  As a result, a SART kit competed for testing resources against evidence from other violent crimes, leading to inconsistent turnaround times.

The original dedicated team consisted of three CriminalistsThe Boards funding action provided two additional new Criminalist positions, as well as providing $300,000 in one-time funding for a contract to allow an outside lab to provide some of the testing as well.

Using these resources, 63 of the original kits were processed by the selected contractor, Bode Cellmark Forensics.  The other 206 kits were processed by the in-house team.  This work involved analyzing each kit for the presence of DNA and uploading all DNA eligible profiles into the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Turnaround Time

At the time of the Boards action, average testing time for SART kits was 94 days.  The Board directed that a goal of 30 days be set.  As of December 31, 2019, average testing time had been reduced to 16 days.

This significant reduction has been achieved in spite of a 23% increase from 2017 to 2019 in the average number of kits submitted per month (from 26 per month to 32).  This increase is consistent with a general rise in sexual assault reports.  In 2018 alone, there was a 20% increase over the prior year in the number of police reports received by the DAO for review for criminal filing.  The DAO is confident that the dedicated resources in place, along with its new SART kit testing policy described below, will allow the Crime Lab to keep up with the increase in SART submissions.

The DAOs SART Kit Testing Policy became effective in May 2018.  The policy calls for a target turnaround time of 30 days for cases, unless they are designated as Priority 1.  Priority 1 cases are those cases identified by the reporting law enforcement agency and the DAO as warranting immediate testing due to imminent public safety concerns.  These cases are to be processed in-house within seven (7) days.  This goal has been met, and the Crime Lab has no backlog of Priority 1 cases.

The 30-day turnaround target for all other SART kits has also been met, and there is no backlog for these cases as well.

Information Regarding Other Related Board Referrals

At the meeting of May 8, 2018, Supervisor Chavez asked the DAO to report relating to the expansion of SART clinics, including the timeline for expansion; and the timeline for developing an interview location at the Downtown Health Clinic for children who are victims of sexual assault, as well as associated financial and space needs.

SART Clinic Expansion

The DAO has coordinated with Health and Hospital staff regarding this referral.  The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Program will expand its response to North County beginning on February 1, 2020 at Stanford Hospital.  This will provide an especially convenient location for SAFE exams for sexual assault victims in North County.  Previously, North County sexual assault victims were provided SAFE exams at SCVMC.

In South County, sexual assault victims in Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy were provided SAFE exams in Gilroy, but any additional medical care was provided at SCVMC.  Beginning in February 2020, any needed medical care associated with SAFE exams completed in the Gilroy response location will be provided by St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy.

SCVMC continues to be the response location for SAFE exams in central Santa Clara County, as well as the location for general operations of the SAFE Program.

Interview Center for Child Victims

Subsequent discussions have clarified the Countys plan regarding an interview location for child victims of sexual assault, and the focus has moved to the establishment of a Child Advocacy Center, to be located at 455 OConnor Drive in San Jose.

The goal of the Child Advocacy Center is to provide services for child sexual/physical abuse victims at one location instead of at a variety of locations throughout the county.  This will include forensic medical examinations, forensic child interviews, victim advocacy, mental health services, appointments with police agencies, and meetings with staff from the Department of Family and Children’s Services.

The District Attorney’s Office has paid an architect and is working with Facilities and Fleet to develop draft floor plans to renovate the unoccupied ground floor of 455 O’Connor Drive.  A stakeholders’ meeting was scheduled for February 3, 2020 (this report was written prior to that date) to receive input on the draft floorplan.  The next step will be to bring the renovation cost estimate to the Board of Supervisors for approval.  The goal is to open the Child Advocacy Center in December 2020.

 

At the meeting of June 12, 2018, Supervisor Chavez asked the DAO to include in this report information relating to the collaboration among law enforcement departments to promote the prompt submittal and testing of SART kits.

Law Enforcement Agency Collaboration

This referral was made because the meeting included a discussion of SART kits located in Santa Clara County law enforcement agencies evidence rooms that had not previously been submitted to the Crime Lab and are not attached to any pending investigation.  While these kits may have been collected years ago, the new Policy described above dictates that all SART kits should be tested.

At the time of the Board discussion, the law enforcement, prosecution, medical, and laboratory justice partners tended to operate in silos regarding their SART kit practices.  Each agency was focused on its respective responsibilities and communication was need-focused rather than process-focused.

In response to the referral, the DAO asked all law enforcement agencies in the County to provide an accounting of historic cases and to submit those historic cases for testing, as long as they qualify for testing under the terms of the SART Kit Testing Policy.  On December 3, 2019, 48 historic kits submitted by law enforcement agencies in response to this appeal were submitted to Bode, and are currently being tested.

CHILD IMPACT

The recommended action, in terms of the acceptance of the report, will have no/neutral impact on children and youth.  However, the report provides information on actions likely to be recommended to the Board in the future involving the Child Advocacy Center, which would have a major impact in enhancing County services to children who are victims of sexual assault and physical abuse.

SENIOR IMPACT

The recommended action will have no/neutral impact on seniors.

SUSTAINABILITY IMPLICATIONS

The recommended action will have no/neutral sustainability implications.

BACKGROUND

At its meeting of February 27, 2018, the Board approved a recommendation by Supervisor Chavez to direct the DAO to analyze the resources needed to reduce SART kit analysis turnaround time to no more than 30 days.  The Board also directed that the DAO develop an outreach plan to law enforcement agencies to speed the submittal of SART kit evidence to the DAOs Crime Lab, that Administration report on the feasibility of providing additional SART examination locations, and that the DAO submit a progress report to the Board.

At its meeting of May 8, 2018, the Board received a report from the DAO detailing resources needed to meet the 30-day turnaround goalThe Board, upon Supervisor Chavezs motion, directed the Administration to review the DAOs report and to incorporate funding in the FY 2018-2019 budget if necessary, and directed the Administration to report on SART clinic expansion.

At its meeting of June 12, 2018, the Board approved the Administrations recommendation to add two Criminalists and $300,000 in one-time contractual funding to the DAO budget for FY 2018-2019 in order to carry out the recommended workplan regarding SART kit testing.  The Board also directed the DAO to provide information as to its collaboration with law enforcement agencies to accelerate SART kit testing processes.

CONSEQUENCES OF NEGATIVE ACTION

The Board would not receive this report regarding SART kit testing.

 

Meeting History

Feb 11, 2020 9:30 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting
RESULT:RECEIVED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:Cindy Chavez, President
SECONDER:Susan Ellenberg, Supervisor
AYES:Mike Wasserman, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, Susan Ellenberg, S. Joseph Simitian

Transcript

Feb 11, 2020 9:30 AMVideo (Windows Media) MP4 VideoBoard of SupervisorsRegular Meeting

 
11:57 AMI'm steven dick. I had the honor and privilege aserving chair prevention councilin santa clara county. One of the role is to advise theboard of supervisors and supportthe acceptance of liable item12. We want to thank presidentchavez and supervisor cortesefor your leadership. We want to thank supervisor ellenberg who publicly cameforward and supported the cacand that was such an emotionallift for all of us working on this. I cannot begin to stress enoughhow important that was. I want to thank james who sometimes goes without sayingthat his tireless work, he's thehardest working person in thiscounty. What he does is unbelievable. His work in this field has beennothing short of fantastic. So thank you james for all your hard work. To jennifer kellerher who is thechair, she's here here today.

11:58 AMAmazing people you'll meet. Her work on sexual assault taskforce has been a god send. She has been working tirelessly to get this passed and work andget reforms done. On behalf of everyone on thecouncil, jennifer, thank you for everything you do. I want to thank unsung hero. She is not here. Stacy castle. She dropped the stone in thewater about 2. 5 years ago, shesuggested we form a sexualassault task force. It was off the cuff comment thatrippled and had tremendousimpact. Sometimes she does not get the credit that she deserves for heramazing insight and for herleadership. I wanted to publicly thank her.
11:59 AMI'm jennifer, i'm the chairof the task force of the childabuse prevention council.i like to permanently request, always go right before me andset the stage. Thank you for your comment,steve. I'm still blushing, I think. I think it goes without saying,based on the amount ofinformation in the report before you. That we enthusiastically supportand have worked with staff toput forward these recommendations. I want to reiterate, we knowthere's hard work ahead and thecouncil and in particular my task force is 100% ready to dothat heavy lifting with you alland with your teams with thed. A. 's office, law enforcement, all of the critical responders,medical. We have a phenomenal groupassembled working hard and willing to give difficult andchallenging input and we reallywant to recognize the fact thatthis has been really plus year effort. I'm just wanting to highlightthat we do need look both atprevention and response. We can't do without the other. The task force really felt likeboth of those were critical inorder for us to address what is truly a public health problemand epidemic. You know that the statistics arevastly under reported and as supervisor cortese mentioned,the ramifications both in theshort-term and long-term areextreme. We look forward to working withyou and we're so thankful andappreciative for your effort andinvestment in this truly resources are what we need.so thank you.
12:01 PMI'm the former chair of thejuvenile justice commission. we like to thank all theleadership that you've given onthis issue. It was very important. That transmittal that has beensubmitted is comprehensive. It has covered almost everythingthat's been discussed for years. We are extremely supportive ofthe child advocacy center. We are grateful to all theagencies that have come together to create this proposal and hopethat the board will adopt thisplan. We are very happy child advocacy center will providecomprehensive services in onelocation and they'll be open toall children, child victims of sexual abuse.we thank you again.
12:02 PMThank you for your service.>> i'm little hamper. i'm with bikers against childabuse. I want to thank the council formoving forward with the child advocacy center. We empower children to not livein this world in fear afterthey've been abused. I've met susan and I talked toyou at the green light walk. I want to really let you knowthat I appreciate what you do as a city council. I follow susan so much, she'sinspired me to come up here andthis is the last minute. I'm kind of nervous. Thank you so much and we lookforward to seeing this moveforward. Thank you.
12:03 PMI'm ashley robinson.i'm director for behavioral anddevelopmental health. on behalf of the first five, iwant to to thank presidentchavez and all of the members ofthe boards for supporting this. This is something that's nearand dear to my heart. I'm a former social worker andchild welfare for the county. As you were speaking about thegaps, I understand those gaps inspite of all of the efforts. First five want to partner. We recently just partnered withthe county executive's office,the department of public health,behavioral health to really address this issue through theasis awareness initiative. It stands for adverse childhoodexperience.

12:04 PMTo look at how we can preventand intervene with regards tochild abuse. We're support of line item 12. We're ready to work acrosssystems to address this issuealongside with you.
Catherine campbell. thank you so much for having us. I want to thank everyone forallowing me to be on the taskforce when i'm someone who has been harmed. As I said, 15 years ago, today,my child came up and saidprotect me from daddy. My children -- they're entirelives they will be working onthis to get up and walk out thedoor sometimes. I'm waiting for that. It is extremely hard to look atwhere we've been and to moveforward.