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Wayne County partners with UPS to track Detroit rape kits

Washtenaw County Prosecutor's office

Wayne County has partnered with UPS to make sure Detroit never faces a rape kit backlog again.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy says her office worked with UPS to design a tracking system for the rape kits—using the same kind of technology the shipping company uses to track packages.

Worthy reached out to UPS last year with the idea. The company then designed a system that “tracks and monitors [sexual assault kits] through the chain of custody from examination room to evidence property room,” UPS says in a press release.

A pilot program launched at the start of this year, with every new kit assigned a bar code immediately after a sexual assault examination. The information is then scanned into a modified version of the tracking system that UPS offers businesses looking to track internal deliveries.

Worthy says the system seems to be working well so far, and she hopes the system can eventually expand beyond Detroit and Michigan.

“We have big plans for this project,” she says. “We knew it would work once we got started. Once you give UPS a pass when it comes to logistics, they can figure anything out.”

Worthy say it’s not yet clear when the project will move beyond the pilot phase, which is fully funded by UPS and a donation from Quicken Loans.

More than 11,000 rape kits sat untested for years in Detroit before being discovered in the city's abandoned crime lab 2009.

Worthy mounted a fundraising campaign to get those kits tested. She says that backlog has been cleared, and recently announced another fundraising effort to pay for prosecutions stemming from those tests.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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