OSBI Says Change In State Law Is Contributing To Rape Kit Backlog

Friday, July 16th 2021, 5:44 pm

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said they're working to get thousands of rape kits tested. They believe the backlog could take up to four years to clear.

An audit conducted in 2017 uncovered about 3,000 untested rape kits in law enforcement possession.

Andrea Fielding with OSBI said the discovery overwhelmed their department.

“So today, we have 1,238 kits that are in our possession out of those task force cases and it's taking us about 188 days to get through the processing of the kit,” Fielding said.

That doesn’t include their current workload of almost 1,300 kits. Those take almost a year to process.

Fielding said a new law requiring rape kits to be submitted within 20 days dramatically affected the agency's workflow.

“Before that law went into place, we were receiving anywhere between 25 to 30 cases a month, sexual assault cases a month. After that law went into effect, we're now receiving 95 to 100 cases a month. So, we've seen our work more than triple and no one anticipated that,” Fielding said.

Fielding said it's taking so long because of lack of personnel. Several agents have either been promoted, resigned or retired.

“We are working as much overtime as our analyst can handle,” Fielding said.

To address the caseload, the agency plans to use an additional million dollars they received from the state to hire ten agents to help process kits. They're also looking into outsourcing kits to other labs.

“When we outsource something, our analyst still have to go through the file to make sure that we're sending appropriate samples,” Fielding said.

OSBI said it could take up to 18 to 24 months to get a DNA analyst fully trained, but once they finish filling positions, they believe their overwhelming case load will disappear.