TPD Gets Grant to Test Backlogged Rape Kits

Refuge House
Posted at 5:41 PM, Oct 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-18 09:31:47-05

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Tallahassee city commission will vote Wednesday to approve several grants to the Tallahassee Police Department. One of those grants will help the department keep up with testing rape kits.

Meg Baldwin has spoken to hundreds of rape victims as executive director of Refuge House. For 37 years, the organization has been an outlet for women who agree to be examined as part of a rape kit.

"It's a big commitment on her part," Baldwin said. "A commitment of emotional energy, a commitment of her own vulnerability of her body one more time after a sexual assault."

Refuge House provides rape kits for more than 100 victims every year. It involves taking biological evidence from the bodies of victims and sending it to law enforcement for further review. Baldwin said getting those kits processed means a lot to the victims.

"If she knows that this guy has committed the same kinds of attacks on other women, her commitment to that process is going to be that much stronger," Baldwin said.

Thanks to a grant from the New York County District Attorney's Office, TPD will have the money to test 225 kits that have been backlogged.

"Now, all of our investigators will be assigned each case again," said Officer David Northway. "They'll actually put hands on the cases, open up the files, go through them, make sure that there's still viable evidence there."

The department is one of 32 jurisdictions in the country to get the funding -- more than $160,000.

"Even if a victim has said, 'I don't want to go any further with it,' now we're able to test them and be able to say, 'Oh, look. This happened out in California, and now we can make a connection with that case and that person will be brought to justice," Northway said.