There are more than 5,000 cases of sex crimes in Kentucky annually, including incest, statutory rape and forcible rape, according to the Crime in Kentucky report for 2017, the last year for which data is available.

The report reveals that sex offenses are committed once every hour and 45 minutes in our state. With new technology, DNA results for such crimes may be available in barely more time.

On Wednesday, it was announced Kentucky is the first state to begin using rapid DNA testing for sexual assault investigations.

Of the thousands of cases of sexual violence in our state, only about 40 percent forcible cases and 46 percent of non-forcible cases are cleared by an arrest, according to the Crime in Kentucky Report. This new technology Kentucky is pioneering could increase rates of arrest for sex crimes, reduce sexual assault, protect assault survivors and tackle the backlog of rapekits.

Investigators will use ANDE’s rapid DNA indication system to test samples in two hours, significantly reducing the time for testing samples. With the current technology, testing currently takes at least a few weeks, while other kits remain untested months or years later.

In 2015, Kentucky began a push to tackle a backlog of thousands of rape cases, some more than 40 years old, that were either never submitted for testing or tested with outdated technology.

With Rapid DNA, full rapekits will still be taken after assaults to determine a match to the rapid results. The new tests will be conducted using an additional swab of DNA which will be picked up by Kentucky State Police and then processed.

Implementing this cutting-edge technology is something of which Kentucky should be proud.

It provides an opportunity for swift justice for survivors of sexual assault and may also encourage an increase in reporting rates. If victims believe their perpetrators will be caught and punished, they may be more likely to report.

This new system will allow police to know within mere hours if a suspect is tied to a case, meaning those who are connected can be arrested and off the streets, keeping them from committing other crimes.

While the technology is still in the pilot phase — only about 100 cases will be picked up from major cities like Lexington and Louisville at first — we hope to see this technology available across the state as soon as possible.

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