Mayor issues executive order concerning untested rape kits - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mayor issues executive order concerning untested rape kits

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton issued an executive order to deal with the backlog of untested rape kits within the Memphis Police Department.

Action News 5 reported earlier this year that 8,000 untested rape kits are sitting in MPD storage, some of which date back to the 1980s. The mayor is now calling on the police department to figure out a way to process the backlogged kids.

The mayor says MPD and the Shelby County District Attorney's Office experienced confusion for decades about who should process the rape kits. The executive order issued by the mayor is putting the responsibility into the hands of the police department.

"This makes it clear from the executive branch we'll have some set standards we call Key Performance Indicators," said Mayor Wharton.

"I'm just happy Mayor Wharton is taking rape seriously," said sexual assault survivor and advocate Meaghan Ybos.

Survivor, advocate Meaghan Ybos hopes survivors will no longer feel victimized twice.

"To create a larger conversation about rape. It's something people don't want to talk about, obviously," added Ybos.

The rape kits collect DNA and other bodily fluids from the rape survivor to help identify a suspect.

The executive order includes the following:

  • An immediate inventory of backlogged kits
  • A self-evaluation plan
  • To work with relevant community groups on response and protocols
  • Required monthly updates
  • Establishing procedures

"Collect the specimen on this date, seal it on this date, ship it on this date, store it on this date, report to the victim on this date," explained Wharton.

"Widens the conversation to be about what else we do and how we do it related to rape in this community because what we've got to do is be compassionate to victims and put rapists in jail," said Memphis Are Women's Council Coordinator Deborah Clubb.

The mayor plans to seek out private funds to finish the work.

If you have a sexual assault to report, the Rape Crisis Center can be reached at (901) 222-4350.

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