Rape survivor encourages law enforcement to comply with deadline from governor

TULSA -- A deadline from the governor is approaching for law enforcement regarding their untested rape kits. 

Gov. Mary Fallin is requiring police departments and sheriff's offices across the state to report how many untested rape kits they have. 

The order was issued in April and the deadline is this coming February. 

The numbers will be submitted to the Oklahoma Task Force on Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence or SAFE. They have a deadline of July 1st to submit their findings and recommendations based on the results of the audits to the governor and legislative leaders. 

Danielle Tudor is a member of the SAFE Task Force and a rape survivor herself. She was raped at 17 by a serial rapist that she did not know. 

"I said a very simple prayer that night if somehow God would help me get through this and get my life back that I would help other rape victims as well," Tudor said. 

Now, she is fighting for the victim's rights and pleading with the agencies to turn in their untested rape kits.

"We are not trying to point a finger and say you did this or look at that," Tudor said. "That's not what we're after. We are not trying to blame. We just want to get to the truth and we want to fix it." 

 So far, more than 3,500 untested rape kits have been identified. About 60-percent of sheriffs offices and less than half of police departments have submitted their findings.

Tudor said the task force is applying for grants to have them tested. She hopes when they know exactly how many are untested, Oklahoma wil be moved to the front of the line for the grants. 

Tulsa Police is one of many agencies that has not submitted their numbers to the task force. 

Sgt. Jillian Phippen with the sex crimes division said it is a manpower issue. 

"It's just a very labor intensive audit, so it is a really slow moving process for us here at Tulsa Police," Sgt. Phippen said. "It is moving forward. We are putting together good plans."

For TPD, it is not as simple as just counting. The kit numbers have to be cross checked in databases. 

Sgt. Phippen said they are not sure on the exact number of untested kits they have but said it could be in the hundreds or thousands. 

She said the chief of police has recently designated money for overtime for the audit, but there is no way they can get it done by the Governor's deadline. 

"Other cities are dealing with the same thing," Tudor said. "We are not alone here. What they are finding as they are moving forward with their rape kits is astounding. Cases and cold cases are being solved."

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