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Akron, Ohio

Akron Police Department & Community Partners Awarded $1.9 Million

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3-year grant will add personnel, research, and training to cold case sexual assault efforts

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Capt. Dave Laughlin, interim PIO
Published: 09-26-2019

The Akron Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (ASAKI) Team is growing!  ASAKI, a multi-disciplinary, community response team that formed in February 2019 to investigate and prosecute cold case sexual assaults, has been awarded a second grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to enhance the team and expand its impact.

In 2018, the Akron Police Department (APD) was awarded an initial 3-year grant (2019-2021) for nearly $1 million that provided the personnel, supplies, technology, and management systems necessary to form and support the ASAKI team.  That funding created three new detective positions, a civilian administrative position, and supported new case management software as well as the partial costs of a Summit County prosecutor and a victim assistance advocate who work with the investigators on the team.

Now, the City of Akron is proud to announce that ASAKI will receive an additional $1,980,292 over three years (2020-2022) to enhance the team.  The grant will fund additional community partner personnel, adding a research and evaluation component, and expanding evidence-based, trauma-informed investigation training for all members of the APD Investigative Subdivision.

New funding for current members of ASAKI includes:

  • Akron Police Department: $73,953 for overtime for detectives

  • Summit County Prosecutor’s Office: $645,109 for a full-time prosecutor and paralegal

  • Victim Assistance Program of Summit County: $263,835 for 1.5 full-time victim advocates (which makes 2 full-time advocates when combined with the 2018 funding) and partial funding for a supervisor

  • Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties: $535,262 for 2 full-time victim advocates and a victim therapist

“This grant will help continue the difficult work of investigating these cold cases, convicting rapists, and potentially preventing future sexual assaults,” Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said.  “This new resource will provide my office with the tools needed to prosecute more offenders and assist my mission of keeping Summit County safe.”

This new funding also allows APD to add two new partners to the ASAKI team who will assist with the ultimate goal of cultural and institutional change in the way law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and the community responds to sexual assaults.

ASAKI is partnering with the researchers from the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at Case Western Reserve University’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. The CWRU research team will receive $425,000 to collect and analyze information on the sexual assaults to better understand offending patterns and how to help improve our jurisdiction’s response to sexual assault.

“By working in collaboration with APD, we can help change how sexual assaults are handled in the criminal justice system and how the system and society view sexual assaults, victims, and offenders,” said Rachel Lovell, PhD, the lead researcher on the project. 

APD is also partnering with Dr. Patrick Palmieri of the Summa Health Traumatic Stress Center which will receive $20,000. ASAKI team members are trained in Trauma Informed Sexual Assault Investigation and Prosecution and Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI).  Dr. Palmieri will work with them to develop a customized and condensed evidence-based training on trauma-informed investigation that will be provided to APD’s entire Investigative Subdivision.

“This training not only improves the experience for survivors and witnesses experiencing trauma, but also improves investigations as a whole by yielding better information that can be used to pursue justice in these cases,” Akron Police Chief Ken Ball said.  

For more information about the work of the ASAKI team, please visit www.sakitta.org/akron.

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