The Florida Department of Law Enforcement should test all of the state’s thousands of untested rape kits that are backlogged. That’s according to the head of a Senate budget panel who no longer wants the state to outsource that job.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement estimates there are about 11,000 untested rape kits.
FDLE Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Pritt says law enforcement have a very high regard for victims. She adds preliminary survey results also show there are a number of legitimate reasons why sexual assault kits haven’t been processed, like victims not wanting to come forward.
“Some kits from non-reporting victims, victims no longer wants the investigation to proceed, case is not being pursued by the State Attorney’s office, suspect has pled guilty or no contest, agency did not require submission, and then we allowed them a free text narrative,” said Pritt.
Pritt says it would be helpful if the legislature gave a pay bump to crime lab employees to help with high turnover rates as well as put money toward outsourcing the backlog to speed up the processing.
But, Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart) says he doesn’t want money put toward outsourcing rape kits, adding testing the kits should be a core function of the FDLE. He leads the Senate Budget panel that considers criminal and civil justice issues.
“I think it’s important that FDLE has responsibility for testing,” said Negron. “I don’t think that should be outsourced to private companies. I think there are a lot of things that FDLE is doing that if they aren’t in a position to be able to get these done in a reasonable manner, maybe there’s some other duties that can be put on the back burner, until this issue is resolved. And I understand that may require additional funding and salary increases, perhaps, to be consistent with the marketplace so you can retain people. We certainly don’t expect you to be able to complete the job, without our support.”
He later charged FDLE with taking two weeks to come up with a plan where the agency is responsible for handling the testing, and outsources lower level crimes.
For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.