Fw: VPOTUS pool #1 // Baltimore

From: Fritze, John [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Monday, March 16, 2015 01:31 PM
To: Pietranton, Kelsey; Spector, Stephen
Subject: VPOTUS pool #1 // Baltimore

Vice President Biden toured the Maryland State Police Forensic Science Laboratory in Pikesville, Md., before an open press event intended to call attention to $41 million in additional money appropriated in current fiscal year to address the rape kit backlog. Pool (which held behind a door marked “biohazard”) first saw Biden at 12:50 p.m., walking down a long hall at the facility and joined by Maryland Sens. Barbara A. Mikulksi and Ben Cardin.

Biden, in navy suit and red and blue tied, stopped two three times  along the hallway to look through windows at scientists, in white lab coats, working on samples on the other side of the wall. The tour is led by Daniel Katz, the director of the lab.

Biden asks if the money included in last year’s ominous is being used for scientific equipment he is looking at. Katz responds indirectly, that federal funding is very important for the effort.

“It’s not just DNA from rape kits? It’s DNA from other crimes as well?” Biden asks.

It is, Katz responds. The lab handles 600-650 kits a year, about 20 percent of which involve a rape, he says.

“What percentage of the rape kits have a sufficient amount of DNA…” to proceed with a case? Biden asks. Katz said a “vast majority of them do.”

Pool is then pulled out of earshot, down the hall, and into a room with microscopes and other lab equipment. Sitting on a table in the middle of the room are several different types of swabs that are included in a rape kit. Biden, Mikulski, Cardin and now Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger enter the room at 1:04 p.m.

A woman in white lab describes the different types of swabs used in the kit to the group. She then performs a number of mock “screening” tests to show how the lab determines whether a piece of evidence has samples of semen, saliva or blood on them.

“It’s a lot of steps,” Mikulski remarks to Biden. “You can see how labor intensive it is.”

Pool is ushered out at 1:10 p.m.

Biden remarks, which are about to take place, are open press.

Some background from the VPOTUS office:

Prior to their remarks, the Vice President, along with Senators Mikulski and Cardin, will tour parts of the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Lab to see first-hand sexual assault kits, also known as “rape kits."

It is estimated that there are approximately 400,000 untested sexual assault kits nationwide.

The Administration’s new Sexual Assault Kit Initiative is investing $41 million this year to help communities accelerate testing of the kits that have been backlogged in law enforcement storage rooms and crime labs across the country. Senator Mikulski played a key role in acquiring the funding.

The President’s FY 2016 Budget proposes an additional $41 million to continue the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative as well as $20 million for research under the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice. This funding aims to identify more effective and efficient strategies to reduce the backlog of sexual assault kits and to prevent future backlogs from occurring.

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John Fritze
The Baltimore Sun
Mobile: xxx-xxx-xxxx
xxx@email.com

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