More than 10,000 rape kits could be untested - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

More than 10,000 rape kits could be untested

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City officials say they are assessing the estimate, but are pushing to have all the kits tested. City officials say they are assessing the estimate, but are pushing to have all the kits tested.
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(WMC-TV) - The Memphis Police Department asked for a half-million dollar grant to test more than 2,200 dormant rape kits, but an Action News 5 source says that the number of untested rape kits is upwards of 12,000.

City officials say they are assessing the estimate, but are pushing to have all the kits tested.

"We don't know how many there are yet. It could be as 'much' as 10,000," said Memphis councilman Kemp Conrad.

Rape kits are tested in two phases. Phase one includes serology testing, which determines if there is enough DNA present. This comes at the cost of about $250 per test. Conrad proposed a resolution approving $2.5 million to test them all.

"If there is any time to do a knee-jerk reaction ... It's on an issue as important as this," said Conrad. "I could find $2.5 million in city government with my eyes closed. So I've got a lot of ideas of where we could get that money out of the budget."

He proposed getting the money from the city's reserve fund.

"That, I thought, was an emotional reaction," said Memphis councilman Myron Lowery.

Lowery and eight other council members voted against it.

"We need to find the funds from someplace other than our reserve funds," he said. "Everyone agrees this is a serious problem and we need to deal with it. We will find the funds to test those rape kits. This should have been done some time ago."

The city council will revisit the matter in two weeks. Conrad says it should be priority number one.

"It's a core function of city government. City Government is about choices, and we fund a lot of things. I don't know that there's anything more important than getting this right," said Conrad.

If there is enough DNA, the kit moves onto phase two testing. Conrad says the council needs to figure that cost as well.

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