(Memphis) City Council members are set to approve another $500,000 that will go towards testing untested rape kits.
They will also consider taking $1 million from International Paper funding to building a new climate controlled storage facility.
“Our count as of now is 7,068 kits that we have considered to be group rape kits. We still have 6,651 items that’s going to require sorting into kits,” said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.
“Years ago rape kits were not constructed in the manner that they are now. Each item was bagged and tagged individually. My team has to actually go through each and every one of these 6,000 items and try to put together a puzzle,” added Armstrong.
Right now, the rape kits are stored at three different facilities: Old Allen Precinct, 201 Poplar and the International Harvester facility.
If council approves the $1 million for a new facility, those kits will be stored in one location.
The money that was allocated to IP will be reallocated next year, since the money was not set to be spent this fiscal year.
This is only the beginning of the process.
The $500,000 allocated today for testing will only test for serology.
There will have to be more funds to actually test for DNA.
Deborah Clubb from Memphis Area Women’s Council thinks there are even more issues to address.
“We are going to go to the trouble and time and money of getting these rapes kits to the lab, then it’s our concern that the police and the prosecutors have all the personnel in place to then deal with whatever those rape kits show,” said Clubb.
In a council committee meeting Tuesday one of the victims of those untested rape kits spoke out.
“I know I’ve been waiting 25 years for answers and my main question has been what happened I my kit? What did y’all do with it? When it finally came to light it was like a big load was lifted off my shoulders,” said victim Terry Aldridge who wanted to thank MPD for finally taking the steps to get her kit tested.
Aldridge said she called for years asking about her rape kit, but never got far.
“I was in shock. I was basically in shock. I didn’t push it a lot until the past couple of years.”
After 25 years, Aldridge said the work to clear the backlog now is a step in her healing.
“It’s not about me at this point, it’s about everybody else,” said Aldridge.