A Bixby woman is helping the governor’s office push for police labs to inventory evidence from rape cases. The goal is to test DNA evidence in all rape kits.
The executive order means the Tulsa Police Department will have to go back through their rape kits, and they're not sure exactly how many they have, but there are sure of this - there are no active or recent rape cases waiting on a DNA test.
Sergeant Jillian Phippen said, “We don't consider us having a backlog because if we have a kit that's collected and it needs to be tested, we send it to the lab and it's tested."
But that doesn't mean TPD doesn't have kits they'd like to test - they have plenty that date back to the days before routine DNA testing.
"There are going to be a huge group of kits in the property room that haven't been tested and they're going to come from that time frame," Phippen said.
Tulsa Police said some kits are not tested because the victim decides not to pursue it, or the suspect's identity is determined through other means.
Bixby’s Danielle Tudor, a survivor of sexual assault, believes every kit should be tested.
“You're asked to give a very important piece of evidence that takes a lot of time to take something from your body, then we're taking that and putting it on a shelf and not doing anything with it,” Tudor said.
Tudor was the driving force behind the inventory order - now she wants new laws that determine what's tested and how long police keep the evidence.
“Ultimately, our goal is to get the backlog tested, but we also have to change laws for the future or otherwise we'll find ourselves back here again,” Tudor said.
The police have an end of the year deadline to report what evidence they have and whether it needs to be tested.
Phippen said, “And that's one thing the audit will force us to do, is put hands on each kit and go back through the records and indicate whether it's been tested or not.”
The police department plans to start the inventory as soon as possible. The actual testing will have to wait on available funding.