SD13 - Physical Evidence Recovery Kit Inventory Report
*This report was replaced in its entirety by the Department of Forensic Science on December 16, 2015.
In 2014, the General Assembly passed, and Governor McAuliffe signed into law, Senate Bill 658 (Chapter 642 of the 2014 Acts of Assembly), which directed “[a]ll local and state law-enforcement agencies [to] report an inventory of all physical evidence recovery kits in their custody that may contain biological evidence that were collected but not submitted to the Department of Forensic Science for analysis prior to July 1, 2014.” The legislation required the Department of Forensic Science (hereafter, DFS or the Department) to “establish the form of and timeline for such inventory” and to “receive the reports from such law-enforcement agencies and report the results of such inventory to the General Assembly on or before July 1, 2015.”
Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) Inventory Stakeholder Meeting
The Department sought input from interested agencies and entities on the proposed form and timeline that Senate Bill 658 required DFS to establish for the Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) Inventory. On August 21, 2014, DFS held a PERK Inventory Stakeholder meeting. Over 20 stakeholders attended this meeting, including individuals representing the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, Commonwealth’s Attorneys, the criminal defense bar, forensic nurse examiners, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, the Virginia State Crime Commission, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, and various victim advocacy groups. The legislative assistant to Senator Richard H. Black, the patron of the legislation mandating the inventory, also participated in this meeting. A complete list of stakeholders who attended the meeting is included as Appendix A.
At the PERK Inventory Stakeholder meeting, DFS presented a draft inventory form and a proposed timeline to the group. After discussing the proposed contents of the inventory form, the group reached a consensus as to what should be included on the form. It was also agreed that the most important piece of information for each PERK that would be captured by the inventory was the reason the PERK was not previously submitted to DFS for analysis. As a result of the discussion at the stakeholder meeting, the Department circulated a new version of the form to the stakeholder group for comments. The Department subsequently finalized both the form and timeline for the inventory. A copy of the inventory form, which was made available electronically as a fillable Excel spreadsheet with dropdown menus, is included as Appendix B.
Information About PERK Inventory Disseminated to Law Enforcement
On October 10, 2014, the Department posted on its website general information about the PERK Inventory, answers to a list of Frequently Asked Questions, instructions for completing the form, and a link to download the electronic PERK Inventory form. The Department set a deadline of February 1, 2015 for agencies to submit their completed inventory forms to DFS. Copies of the informational materials posted on the Department’s website are included as Appendix C. The availability of the information on the Department’s website, and the February 1 inventory submission deadline, were shared with law enforcement agencies across the state through the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. Additionally, DFS staff gave presentations on the PERK Inventory at the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association conference on September 16, 2014, and at the training for the Virginia Association of Property & Evidence Professionals held on December 18, 2014.
As the February 1, 2015 deadline neared, DFS sent reminders to law enforcement agencies about the upcoming deadline through the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. DFS had identified 390 state and local law enforcement agencies within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Five of the 390 agencies were subsequently identified as being “inactive”(*1) by the Department of Criminal Justice Services, leaving the final number of active agencies at 385. A list of the state and local law enforcement agencies in Virginia used by DFS, including the five agencies deemed “inactive,” is provided as Appendix D. As of the February 1st deadline, only 176 of the 385 active state and local law enforcement agencies in Virginia had submitted their inventories to DFS.
Follow Up with Non-Responding Law Enforcement Agencies
After the February 1 deadline passed, DFS continued to reach out to non-responding agencies to encourage all state and local law enforcement agencies to comply with the legislative mandate that they submit their PERK inventories to DFS. Follow up reminders were sent through the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. Additionally, once the number of non-responding agencies was reduced to fewer than 100 at the end of March 2015, DFS staff sent emails directly to the head of each nonresponding agency. As the number of non-responding agencies continued to decrease and the July 1 report deadline approached, DFS staff also made multiple phone calls to agencies encouraging the submission of their inventories and offering assistance in completing the form.
(*1) An “inactive” agency is a police department that previously was approved through its city/town charter, but that is not currently operating as a police department, most often due to budgeting issues. Localities with inactive police departments have contracted with their local sheriff’s office for law enforcement coverage.