Southern Arizona agencies receive $2 million grant for sexual assault cases

Southern Arizona agencies receive $2 million grant for sexual assault cases
A sexual assault kit collects evidence off a victim's body shortly after an assault. (Source: Samantha Kummerer)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Attorney, Tucson Police Chief, and Pima County Sheriff are proud to announce that they have received a grant in the amount of $2 million from the United States Department of Justice.

The grant will help them better respond to cold cases involving sexual assault.

The funding is for a joint project entitled: “Out of the Shadows: Justice for Unsolved Sexual Assault Case Victims, to create a comprehensive, multi-agency, county-wide response to sexual assault.”

Pima County Attorney’s Office, Tucson Police Department and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department will lead the project.

The project also involves collaboration with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault, Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center, and Tucson Medical Center.

Over a three-year period, it will provide funding for:

  • Inventory and multi-phase testing of all sexual assault kits
  • Uploading of all results of DNA tests to national databases
  • Two cold case detectives at TPD and one cold case detective at the Sheriff’s Department to conduct follow-up investigations to gather additional evidence as needed
  • One prosecutor at the County Attorney’s Office to handle these special victim cases
  • Expert witness fees and witness travel costs for trials
  • Training and technical assistance
  • Two victim advocates at the County Attorney’s Office to provide victim services
  • A designated Site Coordinator to ensure successful communication and collaboration among all the participating agencies

The Site Coordinator for this project is Special Victims Bureau Chief Alan Goodwin. Goodwin will create system changes across multiple community agencies to ensure swift testing, investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases, thus preventing future backlogs.

Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall said, “I am pleased to receive the necessary funding to ensure that we are able to bring to justice every perpetrator of sexual assault in Pima County and to provide necessary support services to victims of sexual assault, thus empowering them to become strong survivors.”

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus added, “Our partnership with the Department of Justice is critical to providing the necessary funding to be able to investigate every sexual assault case as quickly as possible.”

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier noted, “This partnership among our law enforcement and social service agencies to interdict the perpetrators of sexual assaults and to help heal those they have victimized is a testament to the collaborative spirit with which we work to solve crimes and protect the people of Pima County."

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