Gwyn: MPD missed opportunity to clear backlogged rape kits - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Gwyn: MPD missed opportunity to clear backlogged 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 Police Department missed an opportunity and could have cleared its backlog of 12,000 rape kits more than a decade ago, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn told the Tennessee General Assembly.

Back in 2003 the TBI got a federal grant to send backlogged rape kits for testing.
    
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When Memphis Police announced it was holding 12,000 untested rape kits dating back to the 1980s, people asked how does this happen? Gwyn said MPD missed an opportunity to clear the backlog 11 years ago.

"How many of these rape kits were sent to you per your request?," questioned State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) about the rape kits during a criminal justice committee hearing Thursday.

Rep. Parkinson posted the exchange on YouTube.

In 2003, Gwyn was the deputy director in charge of forensic. He sent a memo to all police departments in the Volunteer State asking them to forward any rape kits for testing.

"We thought we had take care of that problem, I think," Gwyn said. "I think we got 250 something maybe from Memphis."

More than a decade later FOX13 News learned Memphis has thousands of kits.

Rep. Parkinson: "Would it be safe to say that had all the rape kits been submitted that we wouldn't be nearly in the situation that we're in now in regards to the 14,000 backlogged rape kits?"

Gwyn: "That would be safe to say."

Rep. Parkinson: "It's unfortunate that if, you know, this did happen in the way the director's explaining it that we missed this opportunity to, you know, find or create justice for, you know, these individuals that have been through this situation."

Rep. Parkinson is sponsoring a bill that would require police departments across the state to test all kits in their possession. State Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

"We hope that you know it's acceptable and, and our colleagues understand the gravity of what we're doing to make sure that we're, we're never in this situation again," Rep. Parkinson said.

Memphis is already moving forward with a plan to test all of the kits it has. City officials say the current number of untested kits is around 12,000, and the city is also launching an investigation into how this was allowed to happen.

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