Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022 (Phoenix, AZ) - The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) is proud to announce it is the recipient of approximately $3 million in grants from the Department of Justice to help find justice for victims of crime.
One of the grants will help further investigations where DNA serves as a catalyst to find perpetrators in cases that have gone cold. The other grant pertains to the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (commonly referred to as SAKI) which enables law enforcement to process rape kits in a timely fashion. This is in addition to providing funding for training to improve cold case and sexual assault prosecutions and investigations.
The DNA cold case grant will provide MCAO with more than $500,000 to pay for additional DNA testing, create a countywide database of cold cases, hire a data analyst, and ultimately be a multiplier of resources for seasoned prosecutors who are experts in cold case homicide investigations.
“This is the first time our office has been awarded this grant. Our goal is to increase the number of successful prosecutions of cold cases throughout our county and provide closure to the victims of violent crimes,” said County Attorney Allister Adel.
The SAKI grant, with an award amount of nearly $2.5 million, will fund several initiatives. It will continue to support ongoing testing of sexual assault kits that need to be submitted for further DNA testing. It provides additional funding for training of law enforcement agencies in the valley. Within the County Attorney’s Office, the grant will allow for the hiring of more detectives and crime analysts who assist law enforcement with the investigation of sexual assault crimes.
“These resources enable us to continue doing the work that we’ve been doing by assisting agencies that may not have the manpower or a specialized unit to investigate these crimes and will allow us to continue providing financial resources to ensure test are processed responsibly and in a timely manner,” said Adel.
About the Funding:
This project was awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office.
- Prosecuting Cold Cases Using DNA
This program provides funding to support agencies in the resolution of violent crime cold cases by providing resources for agencies to prosecute cases where a suspect's DNA has been identified, decreasing the number of unresolved violent crime cold cases. Provided that DNA attributed to a known or unknown suspect has been identified, funding support includes investigative activities and crime and forensic analyses that could lead to prosecuting violent crime cold cases and decreasing the number of violent crime cold cases awaiting or pending prosecution.
- Sexual Assault Kit Initiative
The opportunity supports the Department of Justice’s priorities of reducing violent crime and supporting law enforcement officers and prosecutors by providing jurisdictions (including rural and tribal) with resources to address sexual assault kits in their custody that have not been submitted to a forensic laboratory for testing by Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)-eligible DNA methodologies; improving investigation and prosecution in connection with evidence and cases resulting from the testing process; and providing sites with resources to collect DNA samples from qualifying individuals who should have a sample in CODIS (based on the type and time of the offense in relation to applicable state law), but from whom a sample has never been collected or submitted to a laboratory for testing.
About the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office:
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office is the third largest public prosecutorial agency in the nation, serving nearly four million residents in the fourth largest county in the U.S. In addition to handling all felony prosecutions in Maricopa County and misdemeanor filings in the county’s justice court system, the office also provides civil legal services to all county agencies. The agency is comprised of more than 1000 full-time employees, including attorneys, investigators, paralegals, victim advocates and support staff.