Yesterday, WSVN reported that the Hollywood, Florida Police Department has uncovered a backlog of 94 untested rape kits in their storage facilities. Hollywood is located between Fort Lauderdale and Miami and has a population of 140,700 residents.
According to the Hollywood police, the untested kits in their storage date back to at least 2005. So far, 24 of the kits have been identified as “top priority” kits for testing (for reasons we are not yet aware of), and arrests have already been made in some of the cases. According to newly-appointed Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez, “It’s been, as I can best tell, a lack of proper procedures and maybe a systemic problem.”
He adds, “It’s an alarming amount of time. It’s an alarming amount of rape kits.”
Testing rape kits can identify an unknown assailant, confirm the presence of a known suspect, affirm the survivor's account of the attack and discredit the suspect, connect the suspect to other crime scenes and even exonerate innocent suspects. It sends the message to survivors that their cases will be taken seriously—and to perpetrators that they will be held accountable for their crimes.
"I cannot account for what happened in the past,” said Chief Fernandez. “I can only account for my point, going forward, and I'm going to ensure that that never happens again."
We will continue to keep you updated on this story as it develops.
- By Lendon Ebbels, January 16, 2014