On Haslam dodging a ‘rape kits’ question in Memphis (he doesn’t have much authority, you know)

Interesting perspectives from Memphis TV reporting on Gov. Bill Haslam responding to a question on the backlog in processing “rape kits.”


Governor Bill Haslam doesn’t have a lot of power in state government. The lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house have more clout when it comes to things. Still, he is the governor. Who knows when to get involved. Or when it comes to the untested rape kit issue, knows when to stay out of it.

“Obviously, primarily those are local issues. But we’re looking. Senator Norris is taking the lead. We’re looking to see what role the state can play in all of that,” Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said.

So we follow the passed buck over to state Senator Mark Norris of Collierville. He has been working on the rape kit issue and continues to do so.

“Just last week I met with the director of the TBI. I met with the commissioner of finance. We got our inventories back in from all jurisdictions that have these forensic evidence kits,” Norris said.

Money is a huge problem. In Memphis alone, it will cost more than three and a half million dollars to do complete tests on the remaining ten thousand kits. Other Tennessee cities and counties have a problem too, by the way.

“We’ve got to be very methodical and strategic about how we move forward but its very encouraging that the federal government will make resources available as well,” Norris said.

And, from WMC-TV:

Memphis Police Department discovered more untested kits in a storage facility Sept. 16; it’s now a total of 12,360 backlogged rape kits dating back to 1976. More than 5,000 of the kits have now been processed.

“Are there different procedures? The state can say this is the way it should happen everywhere … That we might look at a piece of legislation,” Haslam said.

…Norris revealed how long it would take to end the backlog.

“If Governor Haslam could write a check for the full amount today, we estimate it would still take as much as three years to complete the testing,” he said.

Some citizens stepped in to donate their own money to the cause. Real estate developer Nick Brown presented the city with a $10,000 check to help with the problem.