TBI offers $2 million contract for rape kit testing

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 5:58 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is looking to hire some help to test backlogged sexual assault kits.

A Request for Proposal, or “RFP,” was released Monday.

TBI says they identified 1,000 sexual assault kits that need to be tested by June 30 of next year.

In order to expedite the process, the state is planning to use $2 million to hire up to three contracted labs to test the kits and offer in-person witness testimony on any case.

This latest development is just a part of an ongoing issue.

On Thursday, Action News 5 asked the TBI where they stood in testing kits. They sent a memo from a TBI assistant director to state law enforcement officials.

In October, it said that at the Jackson lab, which also services Shelby County, it takes on average 42.4 weeks to test evidence in sexual offenses.

The state has come under fire for backlogged test kits after the kidnapping and murder of Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher.

It was later discovered that the suspect in the case had DNA matching an untested rape kit.

TBI leaders say part of the solution is hiring more state-employed scientists.

”The challenge still exists. I think... salary modernization is going to impact all of this. We’re still seeing the challenges of being able to hire people at the salary we offer for the positions that are not comparative when you look somewhere else,” said TBI Director David Rausch.

The current pay for scientists is $3,700 a month.

There has been bipartisan support to increase the budget for TBI.

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