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Police defend rape kit handling

An Evanston police spokesman today defended the department’s handling of DNA evidence in rape cases.


An Evanston police spokesman today defended the department’s handling of DNA evidence in rape cases.

A story in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune said many rape kits collected from sexual assault victims are stored by suburban police departments rather than being sent to the state police crime lab for testing.

The Tribune said Chicago police and the Will County Sheriff’s Department send all rape kits for testing, but other suburban departments checked on average have tested only 60 percent of the rape kits collected since 2007.

Evanston’s testing rate was third lowest among those communities — at just 37 percent.

Evanston Police Commander Tom Guenther said, “We’re not going to submit things to satisfy the media. We do it on a responsible, evidentiary basis.”

“There are some situations where we don’t send it in, but it’s not because we’re too busy or that we’re out to lunch,” Guenther added.

“We send in what’s appropriate, but there are situations where on Monday a female may say she was raped, but on Wednesday she may come back and say she made it up” because she was having a dispute with her husband. “That we wouldn’t send in,” he said.

Guenther said that because of backlogs at the state police crime lab that can delay DNA test results for up to a year, “the system is sensitive to the volume of things,” so the department only sends in for testing kits that detectives believe will have evidentiary value.

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