Fort Collins police change rape kit testing policy after CALL7 investigation

Fort Collins will now send more rape kits to CBI

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - A Colorado police department that was the focus of a CALL7 investigation is changing its policies on testing rape kits.

Fort Collins Police Chief John Hutto said that a CALL7 story on rape kit testing prompted the department to reexamine how many kits the department sends in for testing.

“You brought something to our attention, and when we checked into it, we found out that we could do things better,” Hutto told CALL7 Investigator Keli Rabon.

The investigation found departments around the state failed to test rape kits that could help catch serial rapists. Fort Collins had not tested 72 percent of the kits the department collected over the past five years.

Hutto admitted that his department wasn’t sending rape kits to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation because his officers believed CBI would not test rape kits when the suspect is known to the victim. 

“If the issue is consent, finding DNA is not going to help,” Fort Collins Capt. Don Vagge, head of the Fort Collins Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division, told Rabon last month.

"But couldn't it help solve other crimes?" Rabon asked.

“The person that was involved in the sexual contact, their DNA does not get loaded into CODIS,” Vagge said.

A CBI spokeswoman said all kits are tested, and all the DNA is loaded in to CODIS, a national DNA database used by law enforcement agencies. 

Hutto checked with CBI and found that his officers were wrong about the CBI testing policy.

“After your story, we contacted CBI to make sure that we were in fact correct in that assumption, and what we found out was that we were not,” Hutto said.

So now the department will change its policy to send rape kits to the CBI even when the offender is known, and will begin looking at kits from old cases to determine which ones should be sent.

“We're also going to be taking a look at the kits we have in evidence right now, and seeing what of those fit the criteria, and we'll be sending those as well,” he said.

"Do you think that the old way of thinking could have caused a rapist to get away with it?" Rabon asked.

"There's a possibility, and if so, that's regrettable,” Hutto said. “But hopefully by correcting this issue, then we'll get to the truth of that matter as well.” 

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If you have a news tip, or follow-up to this story, e-mail Keli Rabon. You can also connect with her on Facebook or through Twitter @KeliRabon.

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