The state of Oklahoma is working to combat its issue of untested rape kits.
A special task force was organized to show agencies how they should handle untested kits. The task force conducted studies last year and found about 7000 kits were not tested statewide.
Several Oklahoma lawmakers are taking action filing bills in the upcoming legislative session to make agencies more accountable for not handling victims of sexual assault in a timely manner. One recently filed bill in the state legislature would get the sexual assault kits to the lab faster.
“We have x number of days to actually get that kit to the lab regardless if we have a suspect or any other information,” says Jeremy Floyd, Ottawa County Sheriff.
Lack of victim cooperation is reported to play a major role in the kits not being evaluated as quickly as possible.
“We have advocate centers and stuff in the area that we can help that victim,” says Floyd.
And in the Four States one of those resources can be found at mercy hospital. SANE nurse Scarlett Tomasi works with victims often.
“We try and do a whole patient approach so we want to make sure first and foremost they feel safe they guide our exam so if they don’t feel safe moving forward in the exam we stop,” says Scarlett Tomasi.
She’s hoping any victims don’t fear the services they can offer them.
“We want to give control back to you we have advocates that come in from Lafayette House. They provide them with safe shelter so if they don’t feel like they have a safe place to go Lafayette House is a great resource,” says Tomasi.
Floyd adds lack of resources contributes to issues with agencies not being able to properly handle these situations. If legislation is passed, he adds they will receive the funding to help support the cause.