State checking on untested rape kits, BRPD reports numbers
BATON ROUGE - The numbers of untested rape kits across the state are slowly coming in. The legislature passed a measure requesting them from all 421 law enforcement agencies in the state last year, to determine whether or not there is a backlog.
"There are lots of incidences in the state currently where major law enforcement agencies have done a terrible, almost criminal job of prosecuting, researching, investigating sexual assault cases," said State Rep. JP Morrell (D-New Orleans).
Detectives at the New Orleans Police Department did not properly follow-up on hundreds of sexual assault cases. The law would give the state a more accurate picture of how each law enforcement agency is working and whether it has someone specifically assigned to sexual assault cases.
"Anytime there's a concern of backlog, you have to know why," said Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Ebony Tucker. "Every parish has their own way of doing things. It's hard to see whether or not there's a problem. I think that's what this inventory is accomplishing, is who's responsible in every parish."
At the end of 2014, 53 of the 421 agencies had reported their numbers. The Baton Rouge Police Department submitted their numbers last week. They have 268 untested rape kits in the evidence room. Some of which date back to 1980.
"The reason we have that number is because victims may come in and they decline to pursue charges, the offender may die, the victim may die," explained BRPD Cpl. L'Jean McKneely.
Other reasons why they are not tested include a false report given by the victim, a confession or the victim fails to cooperate. BPRD says they keep the kits, in case the evidence because necessary down the road.
"They come to us and say look, 'this happened to me the exact same way 20 years ago,'" said McKneely. "'This is the file number, this is the case y'all worked,' we could possibly use that piece of evidence to help solve future cases."
After all the numbers are collected, Morrell hopes to catalogue the DNA and upload it to a national database. Louisiana State Police says it's still trying to compile those numbers.