Phoenix police, Maricopa County awarded grants for rape kit testing

Arizona has a huge backlog of untested rape kits and getting through that backlog is going to take money and manpower.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance gave the Phoenix Police Department $1.5 million and $1.2 million to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to test sexual assault kits.

"Effective July 1 of 2016, Phoenix Police Department went to test all procedures, every single sex crime evidence kit that comes into our possession, will be tested through our crime lab," Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said.

Montgomery says they received a grant last year of $1.9 million and tested 600 kits. Of those tests, two people were indicted and one was a sex offender, according to Montgomery. The other suspect was a known burglar.

"This confirms our suspicions that by going through the process we will be able to, by going forward, intervene and stop some of these serial offenses in committing sex assaults and also be able to take into account those who are committing residential burglaries and stop them before they go on to commit other offenses against individuals," Montgomery said.

Montgomery says the additional grant money will allow them to test the remaining 2,300 rape kits in Maricopa County.

Kate Gallego, vice mayor of Phoenix, encourages victims to get tested so they can get justice.

"Today is an important day and it ensures that we have the resources in Phoenix to move toward a city that leaves no victim behind," she said.

Earlier this year, Gov. Doug Ducey created an 18-member task force to figure out ways to get rape kits tested more quickly here in Arizona. The group's recommendations will be presented to Ducey this fall.