- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - The Honolulu Police Department has a backlog of 1,500 untested rape kits dating back more than a decade, according to a police spokeswoman.

Michelle Yu did not provide a reason for the backlog, but she said only about 15 to 20 percent of kits the department receives end up getting tested, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (https://bit.ly/1PqGWUV). Outsourcing the kits for testing would cost $2.3 million, she said.

Yu’s disclosure came hours after HPD Forensic Lab Director Wayne Kimoto provided testimony during a legislative committee hearing. Kimoto told lawmakers the department did not know how many rape kits had not been tested.

According to Yu, the department did not know the exact figure until after the hearing on Senate Bill 2309.

The legislation introduced by Democratic Sen. Laura Thielen would establish a program to keep track of the rape kits. It would require law enforcement agencies to send rape kits to a laboratory within 10 days and testing to be completed within six months. The results would then be uploaded to the state DNA database and the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System.

Democratic Sen. Will Espero was told about the police department’s number of untested rape kits later by the Honolulu newspaper.

“It doesn’t sound like it is a priority item to get these tested, contrary to what many in the community believe,” he said.

Rape kit testing backlogs have been an issue across the U.S. In September, federal officials said an estimated 70,000 rape kits sitting in laboratories and evidence collection rooms across the country will be tested.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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