Sexual assault kit

A sexual assault evidence kit.

(The Center Square) – Police departments across Wisconsin are now on the clock for new sexual assault cases.

Gov. Tony Evers on Monday signed a new law (AB 67) that requires doctors and nurses to call the police about sexual assaults within 24 hours, as long as the victim wants to report the assault. Police would then have 72 hours to process any evidence in the case.

The new law comes after Wisconsin’s backlog of old sexual assault DNA kits sat untested for years.

The governor said the new law means victims won’t be kept waiting. 

“Victims and survivors of sexual assault have already gone through the unimaginable, and their path to justice should never be obstructed or delayed,” the governor said.

Republican lawmakers who approved the law say it’s next, best tool for law enforcement across the state.

Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, who helped author the plan said it’s long overdue.

“For the victims of sexual assault, the least we can do is ensure that evidence  of the assault is properly processed and stored, and is taken care of promptly,” Steffen said.

The governor also signed a new law (SB 94) that will have Wisconsin join the national database for sexual assault DNA kits that tracks those kits once police take them into evidence.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, who sponsored the plan in the Senate said it’s one more step to make sure law enforcement in Wisconsin properly handles sexual assault evidence, and is a big step toward getting victims some sense of justice.

“Victims have the right to know if and when their kit is being processed or stored and isn’t lost or backlogged,” Darling said, “It’s my hope this will give them some comfort during a very difficult time,” Darling said.

Both laws take effect immediately.