NEW YORK (WWTI) — Governor Hochul signed legislation on Thursday to establish a statewide electronic tracking system for rape kits, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The governor’s office said the system will give sexual assault survivors access to information about the status and location of their rape kits.

As part of the law, the Division of Criminal Justice Services is directed to create a tracking system for kits in the custody of law enforcement. The system will track kits from the time they are collected by law enforcement to the time they are tested by crime labs as evidence.

The governor’s office said the DCJS system complements the tracking system that will be available to sexual assault survivors who choose not to submit kits to law enforcement but will be stored by the Office of Victim Services.

“Survivors of sexual assault deserve support, compassion, agency, and justice, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to deliver the accountability they deserve,” Governor Hochul said. “This new tracking system will be a critical tool to empower survivors with the ability to track these kits, and supports our overall efforts to make New York State safer and more supportive for all.” 

The Office of Victim Services is responsible for storing rape kits that have not been released to law enforcement. Public Health Law requires the state to store kits for 20 years and a victim can request certain information about their kit or personal items in storage.

The office of Victim Services is currently developing a consent form that will be available online, allowing victims to submit a request via email at soeck@ovs.ny.gov. The governor’s office said it helps give victims and survivors of sexual assault time they may need to decide whether to report the crime and release their kit to law enforcement for testing. 

“We applaud the Governor and legislature for ensuring victims of crime have this valuable tool to help keep them informed as evidence is processed for victims who choose to report crime to law enforcement,” Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said. “OVS is dedicated to providing victims of crime with the support and resources they need whether or not they choose to move forward with criminal cases.”