ALBANY, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Monday, April 24 the opening of a new state facility to store sexual offense evidence collection kits that have not been released to law enforcement. The facility, opened by the State Office of Victim Services, was opened to comply with a state law that requires unreported evidence collection kits to be stored for 20 years from the date of collection.
“New York State remains committed to supporting survivors of sexual assault in every way possible,” Governor Hochul said in a statement. “This new State facility will be a critical tool to help deliver support and justice while providing a strong foundation for victims to heal and alleviate some of the pressure they may feel when it comes to legal timelines.”
Mohawk Valley hospitals and their employees will be among the first to notify victims of sexual assault that their kits will be transferred to the facility and how to track them. They have also been among some of the first trained in proper transfer protocols.
Hospitals in the rest of the state will follow suit in the coming months. Training for the rest of the state (beginning in the Syracuse area, Long Island, and the North Country) will begin in May.
The secure storage – located in the Capital Region — will give victims the opportunity to receive medical care, consent to evidence collection and give them time to decide if they want to file a police report. The facility began accepting kits in January of this year. Its current capacity for evidence is 17,400 items, which should increase to 26,600 items once renovations to a second wing are complete.