The National Institute of Justice, part of the federal Department of Justice, believes investing in DNA analysis can help solve not only homicides (of which San Antonio has 1,200 on their books), but also violent sexual assaults. The NIJ writes in their grant solicitation, "Experience has shown that cold case programs can solve a substantial number of violent crime cold cases, including homicides and sexual assaults. Advances in DNA technologies have substantially increased the successful DNA analysis of aged, degraded, limited, or otherwise compromised biological evidence." Nothing puts the he said/she said argument to rest like a conclusive DNA sample. The SAPD would use the $800,000 grant to fund overtime for detectives analyzing and investigating the cold case backlog, forensics experts to assist both Homicide and Sex Crimes investigators and DNA testing fees. As it stands, homicide has two full-time detectives dedicated to cold cases, while Sex Crimes assigns cold cases to its 38 detectives "on an available basis" according to the City Council document. The same document estimated each detective works on 15 felony sexual assault cases per month, leaving QueQue to infer the detectives log few idle hours to devote to cold cases. We asked if the many cold cases in Sex Crimes could mean the department was understaffed, but SAPD asked to defer that answer until a commissioned staffing study was completed. The department will learn if they've received the grant later in the year, likely in June when the NIJ archives the grant solicitation (applications closed March 12).
Meanwhile, don't hesitate to get help if you think you're the victim of rape or sexual assault. Call the local Rape Crisis Center hotline at 210-349-7273 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. As evidenced by the sad sexual assault cold case numbers, in these investigations, time is of the essence.
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