Yesterday the Lincoln Journal Star published an article stating that the LPD is finally getting around to testing just a few of the almost 400 untested rape kits in their backlog going back to 2004. This backlog update is super interesting to me considering the Lincoln Police Department previously claimed to have NO backlog of rape kits when asked about it early last year at the time they were wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars investigating googly eyes at Jeff “Fart” Fortenberry’s request.
Thus far, out of the 353 rape kits that have been sitting untested over the span of the last 16 years, just 115 of them have been submitted to the lab, and only 42 of them have actually been analyzed. Out of those 42, just FOUR are being followed up on. Four rape kits out of 353. According to the the LJS article, investigators determined whether to test a kit based on their fact finding. So what does that mean? If the victim can’t tell them the name of their rapist, they won’t bother trying to find out? How do you “find facts” without analyzing the evidence? Is it too difficult? Does it take too much time away from doing the bidding of Congressmen? If the vast majority of people being raped were men instead of women would their assaults be dismissed out of hand like this? Here’s a fact for you: Overwhelmingly, people do not lie about being raped.
We decided to take a look at other cities in Nebraska and their stats on rape kits. As it turns out, as of December of 2018, Omaha Police Department was sitting on nearly 1500 untested rape kits. They received a grant of almost two million dollars to take care of that backlog in 2018, but we are unable to find any information telling us how many of those rape kits have actually been tested. In fact the OPD has refused to provide information on their backlog. According to endthebacklog.org, Nebraska has no statewide inventory, is not committed to testing rape kits, has not mandated testing, does not grant sexual assault victims rights to notice and be informed about their case, has no tracking system for rape kits, and does not allocate proper funding for rape kit reform. We reached out to OPD for an update on their rape kit backlog to see what progress they have made with that two million dollar grant but as of the time of publishing we have not heard back.
We could not find any information about rape kit backlogs in any other city in Nebraska.
It is not just the police department that is dismissing these violent assaults. In 2018 Senator Kate Bolz introduced a bill that would have mandated the swift testing of all newly collected rape kits and grant sexual assault survivors the right to notice regarding rape kit testing status and results. That bill failed to be passed in the Legislature. Bolz also introduced a bill in January of 2019 that would have granted survivors the right to know the status of their kit as well as the right for prompt analysis and other rights. That bill also failed to pass.
From the police department to the Legislature to the courts, the entire system is showing they do not care about survivors of sexual assault. Survivors of sexual assault at the University have even started a group, Dear UNL, to bring attention to how they have been failed and dismissed by the Title IX office, which is more concerned with protecting the University than with holding rapists accountable or protecting women. How are we going to work to hold our local police and representatives accountable for their failure to take our lives and safety seriously? How can we trust the police when they lie to us about what is happening in their department? The Lincoln Police Department certainly does not deserve a pat on the back for finally taking action on four rapes out of nearly 400. Contact your representatives today and demand better.