UPS, Wayne County (MI) partner to better track sexual assault kits

Abstract

Detroit’s Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and her team discovered a problem in 2009. Due to a massive backlog, more than 11,000 untested sexual assault kits (SAK) sat in a police storage unit — some for decades.

So Worthy went about asking questions and rethinking processes: “How could this have happened?” Perhaps more important, “How do we prevent this from happening again?” Worthy hoped to streamline how kits are logged, stored and transported, and she even helped start a fundraising effort to finance the investigation and prosecution of those unsolved cases.

In the years following the discovery, Worthy’s long-term strategy for handling sexual assault kits has been simple — maintain better accountability, tracking and visibility along the chain of custody to expedite investigations, and allow victims and suspects their day in court.

“Justice can’t be served if key forensic evidence is locked away and forgotten,” says Worthy, who most notably was responsible for charging and prosecuting former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. “As law enforcers in this county, we knew we had to improve the system.”

In 2014, Worthy partnered with UPS, who evaluated Wayne County’s SAK chain of custody using a strategy called Business Process Reengineering. It entails a detailed analysis and design of business processes to improve transportation practices, performance measurements, cost efficiencies, timeliness and visibility.

Based on the analysis, UPS recommendations for Wayne County included:

Developing a cross-functional, systematic Master Operating Plan for all chain of custody stakeholders

Implementing performance metrics and reporting for case management

Deploying a SAK tracking and visibility solution so all parties know where each kit is located along the chain at all times

Providing broad access to the solution to maximize integrity, credibility and accountability

Based on those recommendations and others, UPS and Worthy implemented a pilot program and a visibility solution, called UPS Trackpad®. The technology, in use by Wayne County since January 2015, tracks and monitors SAKs through the chain of custody from examination room to evidence property room. Pertinent information about each kit is readily accessible via an easy-to-use interface, giving stakeholders the ability to document, publish and report on the status of any sexual assault kit in the chain. With the UPS Trackpad technology, officials can print existing bar codes or customize new ones on demand so each kit can be tracked easily and efficiently.

“Through UPS’s Business Process Reengineering analysis and Trackpad solution, we are seeing significant improvement in how sexual assault kits are handled in Wayne County,” says Worthy, who has been Wayne County Prosecutor for 11 years. “There’s a more cohesive process, and stakeholders are much more interconnected and responsive. I was impressed by UPS’s ability to step in and help us resolve this pervasive issue.”

UPS’s new United Problem Solvers campaign launched in March highlights the logistics company’s unique capabilities helping businesses and organizations like the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office think through and resolve complex challenges. From small local businesses to large global enterprises, UPS approaches logistics with deep problem-solving skills that improve processes and enhance strategic organizational goals.

"The scope of UPS services has expanded significantly over the years," says Alan Gershenhorn, UPS executive vice president and chief commercial officer. "We're transforming UPS into a full-service partner that help customers create better efficiencies, and in the case of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, help officials track important sexual assault evidence."

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