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When is a kit not a kit? 

NOPD says half the rape kits in its custody don't need to be tested

  Following its announcement that more than 400 untested rape kits are in its possession, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) clarified on Dec. 20 that it has 209 untested kits that require testing — and another 220 that don't.

  At a Dec. 18 New Orleans City Council Criminal Justice Committee meeting discussing the Office of Inspector General's recent report alleging five detectives' mishandling of hundreds of sexual assault cases, Cmdr. Paul Noel — who is heading an NOPD task force investigating the cases — revealed that NOPD has "in excess" of 400 kits in its custody. In 2012, following a U.S. Department of Justice audit, Noel led an effort to end the NOPD's backlog of untested kits, many of which were more than 10 or 20 years old.

  "We are committed to clearing the backlog of sexual assault kits that require testing once and for all, and we are actively putting systems of accountability in place to ensure it never happens again," NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said in a statement.

  Of the 220 rape kits that no longer require testing 16 were connected to homicides and were completed in the course of those investigations; 12 were assigned to the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Department; two were from Jefferson Parish; and 35 were from cases cleared by arrest, a warrant or death. Another 130 kits are from cases in which the victim asked police not to investigate, while 25 kits revealed that the victim wasn't sexually assaulted, according to NOPD.

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