Emily Leyva  | Contributing Writer

Hollywood, Fla. – The Hollywood Police Department uncovered nearly 100 rape kits that have gone untested for years. Some of the kits date back to 2005.

“It’s an alarming amount of time,” said Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez in an interview with WSVN, a local news station in Florida. “It’s an alarming amount of rape kits.”

The rape kits, conducted immediately after a sexual assault, are considered to be somewhat invasive to the victim, especially since they are already feeling vulnerable and violated. The exam swabs their DNA and collects  other physical evidence such as samples of bodily fluids, fibers, hair, blood, documentation papers, photos of the assault, and clothing (such as undergarments).

“It is very difficult, that’s why rape goes underreported a lot,” said Sandra Vazquez, official at the Nancy J. Cotterman center for rape victims.

Although the procedure may be emotionally painful and uncomfortable for the victims, the procedure and collection of the evidence is crucial in apprehending the suspect.  After the evidence is obtained, officials enter the information into an FBI database to match it up to any previously known offenders.

Chief Fernandez made the discovery after he was promoted and he ordered an audit on the department. “These are things that happened way before I got here,” said Fernandez. “It’s been, as I can best tell, a lack of proper procedures and maybe a systemic problem.”

24 out of the 94 rape kits, which were initially supposed to be sent to the local crime lab for analysis, have now been prioritized as urgent by the Hollywood Police Department. The remaining amount will soon follow suit.

According to Fernandez, some arrests have been made, but the others still walk the streets as free individuals.

Fernandez went on record to clearly state, “I cannot account for what happened in the past, I can only account for my point, going forward. And I’m going to ensure that that never happens again.”