(Memphis) Police say they are making slow but steady progress on the backlog of sexual assault kits in the city.
Tuesday, the department gave city council members the first progress report on thousands of kits still sitting on shelves.
Officials with MPD said they are making headway in testing sexual assault kits and finally bringing victims justice.
There are more than 5,500 rape victims whose sexual assault kit still sits untouched in Memphis.
That excruciating feeling of waiting is one Meaghan Ybos knows all too well.
“I, myself, am a rape victim,” she said after listening to the council meeting. “His rape kit was in the backlog for nine years, because law-enforcement didn’t believe me.”
MPD is currently facing a lawsuit over the number of untested kits, but in a presentation to the city council officers said they are making progress.
“You’ve got 10, maybe 12 officers of varying ranks that are working directly in this, and they’re working the rear ends off,” Assistant Chief James Harvey said.
More than 2,000 kits have been sent for forensic testing.
The department is also working to become more victim oriented.
“We have edited our policies and our standard operating procedures to be more victim centered,” Harvey said. “We are sending our officers in for training.”
They are efforts victims, like Ybos, are thankful for.
“I’m happy to see an effort towards transparency,” Ybos said. “I think we have a long way to go.” She added she is hopeful progress will continue. “If we don’t test rape kits, and if we don’t believe victims, we let perpetrators go free. All that does is embolden them.”
Memphis police say a total of $6.5 million is needed to handle the backlog. They currently have $1 million, with more funding in the works.