Tell Your Council Member: Reopen APD’s DNA Lab.

Written by Workhorse Marketing

UPDATE: On Sept. 12, Chief Acevedo announced that he would find funding within the existing fiscal year’s budget to fund the analysis of the current backlogged sexual assault related cases—and any incurred during the closure of APD’s DNA lab—while the lab remains closed.

On Sept. 14,  the Austin City Council passed the 2017 budget, which included $1.4 million in the general fund intended to pay for seven additional analysts and one additional supervisor, per PS1.04. 

This is a huge win for survivors of sexual assault and for the advocates and citizens who fought to get these funds in the budget. Your advocacy and your support for The SAFE Alliance is a critical part of this victory. You can help us continue to fight for justice for survivors of sexual assault by making a gift today.

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The SAFE Alliance is asking for your immediate help to make sure Austin City Council takes action to ensure rape kits are processed effectively and in a timely manner. To learn more about APD’s DNA lab closure, and how it impacts the testing of sexual assault kits (SAKs) read our blog post “Closed DNA Lab unfunded, rape kits untested, PS1.04 & PS1.07 must pass.”

What’s Before the Council 

To help reopen and properly staff the police department’s DNA lab, allowing analysts to resume timely sexual assault kit (SAK) testing, Council Member Greg Casar has introduced two amendments to the upcoming city budget:

  • PS1.07 would provide $500,000 for the outsourcing of 500 kits
  • PS1.04 would provide $1.4 million for seven additional analysts and one supervisor

Contact Your Council Member

We ask you to reach out to your district’s council members, the mayor, and any council member with whom you have a good relationship and urge them to support these amendments.

Not sure who your council member is? Click here to find out who represents you. 

  1. Call Your Council Member

To have the most impact, please place a personal phone call to your council representative or schedule an in-person meeting with these council members to discuss this issue. We’ve included a template telephone script below, or download the template script. When you call, ask to speak to the staffer that handles public safety and relay the following message:

“Hello, my name is ________ and I am one the council member’s constituents. I’m calling to ask that you pass budget amendments PS1.07 and PS1.04, as proposed. The city needs to fund the Austin Police Department’s DNA lab so rape kits and DNA evidence can be tested in a timely manner. These measures are essential to provide justice to survivors of sexual assault and safety for everyone in Austin.”

Below is a list of the council members’ office numbers.

  • District 1 – Ora Houston: 512-978-2101
  • District 2 – Delia Garza: 512-978-2102
  • District 3 – Sabino “Pio” Renteria: 512-978-2103
  • District 4 – Gregorio “Greg” Casar: 512-987-2104
  • District 5 – Ann Kitchen: 512-978-2105
  • District 6 – Don Zimmerman: 512-978-2106
  • District 7 – Leslie Pool: 512-978-2107
  • District 8 – Ellen Troxclair: 512-978-2108
  • District 9 – Kathie Tovo: 512-978-2109
  • District 10 – Sherri Gallo: 512-978-2110
  1. Send a Written Correspondence

A personal note in the mail is a powerful move. We’ve created a template letter that we ask you to use as a basis for written correspondence to the council. Download the template.

  1. Sign Our Petition

SAFE is collecting signatures from concerned community members to send to the City Council Members prior to them voting on this important issue. Sign the SAFE Petition

  1. Engage on Social Media

Please help us get the word out about these amendments by participating on social media! Tell us and the community how you feel about PS1.04 and PS1.07 by using the hashtag #KeepAustinSAFE or by tagging us @SAFEatx or join the Facebook event Help End the Sexual Assault Kit Backlog in Austin.

Help #KeepAustinSAFE

To learn more about APD’s DNA lab closure, and how it impacts the testing of SAKs, read our blog post “Closed DNA Lab Unfunded, rape kits untested, PS1.04 & PS1.07 must pass” Or, learn more by watching the July 28 press conference.