(WMC-TV) - Shelby County commissioners were surprised to learn Wednesday that the county has a backlog of untested rape kits.
During a budget meeting, the sheriff told commissioners he needs $75,000 to test the kits.
"It's a terrible situation," said Sheriff Bill Oldham. "It's tragic and terrible. In 2010, when I took office, our policy changed and our detectives submit those within three days."
The sheriff said his staff is doing all they can to end the backlog.
"We've elected out of our own budget to have those tested as quickly as possible," he explained.
Sheriff Oldham said the backlog started with 314 rape kits, many of those dating back to the 1990s. Since he became sheriff, 209 of those have been tested. There are 105 kits left to test.
"We were able to get with the TBI," he said. "They allow us to submit 10 a month, but there's a long turnaround."
Each rape kit takes six weeks to be processed.
Before Wednesday, commissioners knew City of Memphis had a backlog of more than 12,000 untested rape kits; they did not know about the county backlog.
"Let's put some priorities in place here," said Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks. "We could have perpetrators still in our community. There could be other children, there could be other women."
"I was glad to see they had a plan," added Commissioner Heidi Shafer. "I really do think we need to somehow look at TBI and see if there's a way to increase how many we can send through a month."
Sheriff Oldham hopes to clear out the county's backlog within one year.
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