TBI working to help fix Memphis rape kit backlog

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is working to figure out how many untested rape kits there are across the state.

It's something the state ordered after learning about 12,000 untested rape kits in Memphis.

TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said, "We expect to have those numbers, as requested by the legislature, in about two months time."

DeVine called the TBI's relationship Memphis and Shelby County good and said help is usually just a phone call away.

"We have a great working relationship with the district attorney general over here, Amy Weirich, and we're always able to respond when needed."

He said the TBI offers forensic and investigative services. Those are things the city didn't take complete advantage of to help rape victims for 30 years.

However, DeVine pointed out some larger cities, like Memphis, often rely on their own resources.

"It boils down to this: we operate on a request system," DeVine said. "The TBI is never going to come into a jurisdiction and say, 'This is our case.'"

But with a rape kit backlog going back decades, help is exactly what Memphis needs, because DeVine said clearing it will take a long time. "

This isn't CSI," he said. "A lot of people expect DNA cases to be completed within an hour, and that's just not the way it works."

The city has said it needs $6 million to get all the kits tested.

While the TBI cannot help with money, it is holding weekly meetings with the city to talk about clearing the backlog.

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