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State police 'up to speed' on sex assault cases : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
State police 'up to speed' on sex assault cases
Over 4,000 cases dating back to '78 were studied; current case lab time cut

by Tony Scott


The Illinois State Police announced recently that its forensic analysis of sex assault cases has been completed ahead of schedule.
The analysis was done for cases submitted under Section 20 of the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act, legislation signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010 which changed "how law enforcement agencies address the submission of sexual assault evidence to forensic laboratories for analysis," State Police officials said.
The State Police plan submitted as part of the law estimated that more than 4,000 "Section 20" cases, some dating back to 1978, had not been analyzed, according to officials.
"The (State Police) and the Attorney General's Office have worked cooperatively with law enforcement agencies to promote compliance with reporting and submitting these cases for analysis," State Police officials said. "Since agencies began submitting these Section 20 cases to (the State Police) in early 2011, the (State Police) laboratories received a total of 4,138 Section 20 cases."
A good number of those cases analyzed were outsourced to other labs - a total of 3,513 cases. Of the remainder of the cases, 529 were analyzed by the State Police labs and 96 were "canceled for administrative reasons," according to the State Police.
The Section 20 project was completed on Nov. 11 this past year, more than a year ahead of schedule - the plan was to be completed by the end of 2014.
Some local law enforcement officials said they have seen a change in turnaround for sex assault evidence sent to the State Police to be analyzed.
Detective Stacey Mott of the Yorkville Police Department said the sex assault cases sent to the State Police "have been coming back probably within two to three months."
"Which, compared to other stuff we send, is a quick turnaround," she said.
Mott said it used to take the State Police "close to six months" to complete a case.
"I guess I would agree with that press release, that we have noticed with the sex assault cases, that there has been a quicker turnaround," she said.
Mott said all of the department's evidence goes down to the State Police crime lab, except computers.
"Fingerprints, DNA trace evidence, guns, footwear impressions" go to the crime lab, she said.
Mott said each section of the crime lab has their own turnaround time.
"Obviously, the fingerprints section takes the longest because they get the most evidence submitted to them," she said.
Mott said the Kendall County State's Attorney's Office can work with their department to send a request to the state crime lab to expedite a serious case, such as a murder case.
Kendall County Sheriff's Commander Rob Wollwert said from his office's perspective, the cases have caught up.
"In fact, of the Section 20 cases that we had still in inventory back in 2010 when that law was passed, we received the last of them in May of 2013," he said. "Most of them, we received in 2012."
Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis said his office doesn't have the amount of cases that other, larger counties, like Cook County, have.
"We don't have as many of the old cases that I think some of them like... some of the bigger counties have," he said. "Obviously the sexual assault cases are important ones. I'm glad that they've prioritized those and gone through the backlog. I wouldn't comment on a specific case, but it's good to see those numbers, it's a good thing that they got up to speed."

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