New SAFE Kit and Law Requiring Prompt Testing of SAFE Kits

The new SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Kit) is now available. The standardized kit developed by crime laboratories in California, formerly called a “rape kit,” went into production in September 2019 and is now available. It is consistent with the standard state Sexual Assault Forensic Medical Examination Report (Cal OES 2-923). Exam teams can order SAFE Kits for training examiners.

Penal Code Section 13823.14 authored by Assemblyman Jim Cooper, effective January 2018, directed the California Clinical Forensic Medical Training Center (CCFMTC) to work collaboratively with the California Crime Laboratory Directors Association (CACLD) and California Criminalists Association (CAC) to develop a standardized evidence kit for use in California. The SAFE Kit is used by sexual assault forensic medical examiners to collect, package, and label evidence identified during an exam, and includes both blood/alcohol toxicology and urine/alcohol toxicology kits. The SAFE Kit is submitted by the examination teams to their local crime laboratory. It was a two-year development process to gain consensus. 

Penal Code Section 13823.14 directed the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services, the California Association of Crime Laboratory Directors, and the California Association of Criminalists to provide leadership and work collaboratively  to develop a standardized sexual assault forensic medical evidence kit for use by all California jurisdictions. CLICK HERE for details and photos of the new SAFE Kit components.

Penal Code 680 effective January 1, 2020 requires law enforcement agencies to submit the SAFE Kit within 20 days after being booked into evidence to the crime laboratory. This bill (SB 22), introduced by State Senator Connie Leyva, requires crime laboratories to process SAFE kits, create DNA profiles when able, and upload qualifying DNA profiles into CODIS as soon as practically possible, but no later than 120 days after initially receiving the evidence.

SART Teams Rock!

Over 300 professionals attended the 8th Annual SART Summit Multi-Disciplinary Conference held September 3–5, 2019, in San Diego at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay. Community SART (Sexual Assault Response Teams) are considered the optimal approach for responding to survivors of sexual assault, as no single discipline can handle all aspects of the victim’s needs.

This year, 77 SAFE/SANE examiners, 65 prosecutors, 39 law enforcement officers, 92 advocates, 4 social workers, 3 mental health specialists, 8 criminalists, and 15 SART Coordinators attended. Presentations included:

  • Dr. Antonia Abbey, Wayne State University and Editor of Psychology of Violence, who spoke on Etiology of Men’s Sexual Aggression;
  • Dr. Jocelyn Roland, who presented Vicarious Trauma: Blueprint for Vicarious Trauma Informed Organizations;
  • a series of presentations on strangulation forensic medical exams for all disciplines and human trafficking; and
  • Kate Pieper, LMFT, on Resiliency for First Responders.  

A special highlight of the conference was the screening of Unstranger Danger, a very moving documentary film created by child sexual abuse Detective Jeff Udvarhelyi with the Edscondido Police Department.

Save the date for the 9th Annual SART Summit! September 8–10, 2020 at the Hyatt Mission Bay, San Diego. 

Detective Jeff Udvarhelyi and Detective Damian Jackson with the Escondido Police Department presenting at the 8th Annual SART Summit.

Use a New Step-by-Step Guide to Navigate the Vicarious Trauma Toolkit

Vicarious trauma is an occupational challenge for people working and volunteering to help victims of crime, due to their continuous exposure to victims of trauma and violence.

In 2017, OVC launched The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (VTT) to help organizations strengthen their ability to address work-related exposure to trauma. Informed by research and lessons learned, OVC has announced the release of the VTT Blueprint for a Vicarious Trauma-Informed Organization. Created by and for the field, this step-by-step guide provides additional tools and technical assistance to help organizations begin the process of becoming more trauma-informed.

Access the new VTT component, Blueprint for a Vicarious Trauma-Informed Organization, to get started. The blueprint includes four steps to help guide you:

  1. Lay the foundation for success. Obtain buy-in from organizational leadership and designate staff to lead the effort.
  2. Assess current organizational capacity for addressing vicarious trauma. Conduct an organizational assessment using sample scoresheets. This step also features a sample report to help communicate your findings. 
  3. Determine priorities and develop an action plan. Learn how to identify priorities, communicate the action plan with staff, and monitor progress.
  4. Explore the VTT for resources to implement your action plan. Use the priorities and tasks in your action plan to help address the needs of your staff.

Excerpted from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime website.