SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– The destruction of untested rape kits is a failure Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams doesn’t deny.
“The information that was reported is ancient history, in some cases more than a decade old, and it is not indicative of what we do today,” he said to KOLR10 on Friday. “In our first meeting with the reporter, I addressed that. I said ‘Here’s what happened in the past. And I can’t go fix that. But I am absolutely acknowledging that things were not done how best practices now would say to do them.”
And while he knows ‘this happened years ago’ isn’t at all an excuse for the department’s past behavior, he follows that admission with a promise to victims that the department has been improving for years– though he says CNN overlooked that progress.
“I was pretty disappointed in the fact that they pretty much stopped the reporting after 2012. Since 2014, well in advance of them contacting us. We’d said ‘We’re not going to destroy any of them anymore,” he said.
And to his knowledge two have been destroyed in these past 4 years. Both times it was a call made by a detective without department approval.
Now he’s encouraging victims who feel overlooked to come forward.
“If there’s a victim who, at any time, in any case, feels that things weren’t done appropriately. All they have to do is call and let us know that,” he said.
Even those who feel– without a rape kit– their case is lost.
“That’s one aspect of the investigation, We’ve made cases before and charges have been presented without evidence from a rape kit,” he said.