One method that jurisdictions may use to notify survivors and the general public about untested sexual assault kits is “community notification.” Community notification practices include PSAs, news stories, bulletin boards, and social media. As communities begin to focus on solving cold case sexual assaults, community notification projects help to inform victims of the effort. Some victims may be difficult to reach by more traditional measures, considering their rape kit may have been submitted years, even decades ago. Two communities in Texas—Houston and Dallas—have embarked on community notification projects recently.
In 2001, Dallas Police Department (DPD) placed an article in the newspaper about their new cold case project looking at unsolved sexual assault cases and offered victims the opportunity to contact DPD about their untested kit.
Recently, the Houston NIJ Strategic Approaches to Sexual Assault Kit Evidence: Action Research Project (https://www.utexas.edu/ssw/projects/r7140/) set up an info line for survivors to received information on their untested kits. Brochures (in English and Spanish—link to documents) about the info line were distributed to all Houston Police Department patrol stations. They held a press conference in January 17, 2014 to announce the info line to the public. Additionally, the info line was publicized on local television, radio stations, and through the Houston Police Department’s Facebook account.