AP NEWS

Washington state proposes team to pursue police cold cases

December 26, 2019 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington’s attorney general submitted a budget request to reinvigorate a police team to investigate unsolved homicides and sexual assaults in the state, officials said.

The $1.7 million budget request by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is the first time the office has called for a state team specifically tasked with pursuing cold cases, The Everett Herald reports.

The new state unit of cold case investigators would help detectives faced with 1,600 unsolved homicides.

The state’s Homicide Information Tracking System team has decreased to five employees from the previous 16 investigators.

Ferguson’s office called for eight more senior investigators, an assistant attorney general, a crime victim advocate, a violent crime analyst, a data consultant, and a legal assistant.

Earlier this month a note in Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s supplemental budget proposal suggested an increase of $647,000, with no mention of a homicide unit. That amount could fund two new investigators and a victim advocate.

Both proposals also prioritize following up leads in rape cold cases. About 10,000 sexual assault kits have gone untested.

The state Legislature has invested about $10 million over the next two years to end the backlog. The Legislature is expected to review both proposals during its session beginning in January.