Gibbons doesn't know who to blame for untested rape kits - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Gibbons doesn't know who to blame for untested rape kits

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Refusing to play the blame game, State Public Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said Friday he doesn't know who to blame for the Memphis Police backlog of decades of rape kits.
 
Gibbons, Shelby County's District Attorney General during the time the kits went untested, said Friday in Memphis he's had discussions about the rape kit backlog with Gov. Bill Haslam. He says the good news is all new kits being collected are being tested.

MORE: Class action lawsuit filed over backlogged rape kits

Commissioner Gibbons said he first learned there was a backlog of rape kits around 2010 while he was the district attorney general in Shelby County, but he says he didn't know the extent of the backlog.

During that time he says he offered to have any kits sent for testing but he doesn't know how many were sent during his tenure as the district attorney.

In December 2013 the Police Director Toney Armstrong acknowledged the department is holding onto more than 12,000 rape kits going back as far as the 1980s.

"I don't think you can blame any particular individual in the Memphis Police Department, or anywhere else, for this," Commissioner Gibbons said. "It's more, it would appear to be more of a systematic failure over decades and why I don't have the answer to that."

Gibbons said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime lab doesn't have the ability to test all of the backlogged kits. That's why the city of Memphis has to pay to send the kits off for testing to outside labs. He says the Volunteer State has already given the city of Memphis a $500,000 grant for testing.

But he didn't say what if anything the State would be able to do to help pay for the rest of the kits that are out there.

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