More than 1,100 rape kits untested in central Florida

More than 1,100 rape kits untested in central Florida

FLORIDA — Nearly 11,000 rape kits have not been tested in Florida, according to statistics released by the state Tuesday, mirroring backlogs at law enforcement agencies nationwide because of a lack of funding.

In a spreadsheet released on its website, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement showed that 10,900 kits from 262 agencies around the state have not been tested. Seven law enforcement agencies did not report data.

More than 1,100 of those kits that were never submitted are from rape victims in central Florida. That’s from numbers from the major law enforcement agencies within the region.

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Last August, FDLE asked law enforcement agencies across the state to report the numbers of untested rape kits. Some of those kits could go back decades.

Orlando police had 351 kits that has not been submitted for analysis. Orange County had 200.

Kissimmee had 31, and Daytona Beach had 140.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office reported 199 untested rape kits to the state.

The city of Tampa had 11 and Miami had 1,500.

It took three years for Kellie Greene’s rape kit to be tested, and when it finally was, it helped put her alleged attacker behind bars.

That’s why she and State Attorney General Pam Bondi are asking the state for more money to get every kit tested.

“We owe it to them to do all we can for their courage and bravery for coming forward and reporting this crime to get these bad guys off the street,” said Greene.

FDLE officials said the kits weren’t tested for a variety of reasons, like the suspects being taken into custody, or prosecutors not pressing charges.

Bondi said in September that another problem comes from a lack of funding at the state law enforcement agency, where crime lab analysts are paid less than their counterparts in other states.

The agency has asked for $35 million to hire more DNA analysts and pay them a competitive salary. Bondi said it's unclear how much money the department will really need to hire more analysts — it could take more than $35 million — to plow through the backlog.

On Tuesday, Bondi wrote in a statement that her office will continue to work with law enforcement to clear the backlog.

"We understand it will likely take a number of years to process these kits, and we look forward to reviewing FDLE's final assessment once it is completed," she wrote.