Lawmakers announce lab jobs to ease testing delay for sexual assault kits

NASHVILLE (WDEF) – The Governor and lawmakers are taking new steps to address the TBI lab staffing issues that have created long wait times for testing sexual assault kits.

It can take months for the labs to process the SAKs now.

TBI officials say they are so far behind because of staffing issues in the labs.

Now Governor Bill Lee, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and Speaker Cameron Sexton are announcing a new step to speed up the hiring process.

Before they get into the budget process next year, they are providing funds for 25 new forensic lab positions.

6 will be in the Knoxville lab, 11 in the Nashville lab and 8 in the Jackson lab.

Lawmakers remind us that staffing has been a continuing problem for the labs.

“For several years, Tennessee has made historic investments to support the TBI’s mission so that law enforcement can do its job and combat violent crime. As our nation faces rising crime, we are taking this additional step to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles, increase the TBI’s capacity and reduce testing turnaround times as quickly as possible,” said Gov. Bill Lee.

“I am glad we are able to quickly provide additional resources to address the TBI backlog of sexual assault kits. It is critical our criminal justice system can swiftly remove rapists from the streets to protect victims and ensure these despicable criminals cannot further terrorize the community,” said Sen. Bo Watson (R – Hixson).

“The move today is a step in the right direction.”

“To keep Tennesseans safe, we must continue holding violent criminals accountable and ensuring swift justice for victims. These new forensic lab positions will help expedite that process by addressing the alarming backlog of sexual assault kits in our state,” said State Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain).

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