The San Diego Police Department / Photo by Megan Wood

The San Diego Police Department estimates all of its untested rape kits will be tested in the next two years. The department sent them to a third-party lab for analysis earlier this year.

That estimate comes on the heels of a state audit that found SDPD had more untested kits – 1,627 – than any other law enforcement agency in the state.

SDPD spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said the department sent its kits to Bode Technology for analysis in batches. The last of the batches was sent on April 29. In September, SDPD committed to sending its kits to a third-party lab, after analysts in the city’s crime lab revealed they had been instructed to lower testing standards for some kits to help clear the department’s backlog, and District Attorney Summer Stephan blasted the practice.

“We are expecting to receive the results for the first 25 kits sent to Bode sometime at the end of this month,” Takeuchi wrote in an email.

The agency then expects to review how the results are reported, and to get 50 kits back next month. By July, SDPD expects Bode to turn around 75 kits a month until it has completed the department’s backlog.

“Therefore, we believe that we will have all kits tested within 2 years,” Takeuchi wrote.

The state audit stopped collecting data in July of last year, before the agency’s September commitment to test all kits.

But the department’s total untested kits had actually grown by the time it began sending them to Bode for screening.

In late December, the latest tally available, the department had 1,794 untested kits.

In the state audit, however, SDPD’s results stood apart not just because it had the most untested kits. It also had far and away the most kits listed with an “unclear” date of when they were collected. The state attempted to break down kits for each department collected before and after the start of 2016, because a law passed last year, SB 22, requires departments to test all kits collected after 2016.

SDPD’s 1,627 kits represented 96 percent of kits in the state with an unclear collection date. But Takeuchi said the department does know when each kit was collected.

“Additionally, we do not know who from our department provided information to the DOJ for the report,” he wrote. “Although the report indicates all of the San Diego Police Department’s historical kits have an ‘unclear kit date,’ that is not the case.  We are currently able to identify all kits based upon date.”

As of the end of 2019 – when the department had more untested kits than listed in the report – 1,299 were from before 2016, and 495 were from after.

Both numbers are the most of any agency included in the audit. The Oakland Police Department, the agency with the second most untested kits, had 1,156 from before 2016, for instance, but just 41 from after 2016.

Other large cities in the state had far lower numbers.

The Los Angeles Police Department, for instance, had 374 untested kits from before 2016, and 115 from after. The San Francisco Police Department did not have any untested kits, nor did the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department Crime Lab, meanwhile, had 311 untested kits from before 2016, and 77 from after.

Steve Walker, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, which is leading a countywide effort to test all rape kits in the county, declined to comment.

Since that effort began, it has sent 1,906 kits from every law enforcement agency in the county besides SDPD to Bode for testing, including 653 from the Sheriff’s Department. Of those, 1,716 have been tested as of last month.

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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