Tennessee Hiring 25 More Forensic Analysts to Address Rape Kit Backlog

The governor of Tennessee has announced that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TB) will hire 25 new forensic analysts in order to assist with processing Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs). 

“Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and Speaker Cameron Sexton announced a decisive step to accelerate the hiring process for 25 additional forensic lab positions at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI),” said a press release from the governor’s office. “Taking this action ahead of the regular budget process will expedite the TBI’s efforts to expand testing capacity and reduce the turnaround time for sexual assault kits (SAKs).”

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City of Memphis Won’t Comment on Lawsuit Filed by Cleotha Abston Rape Victim

The city of Memphis Friday refused to comment on the lawsuit filed against it by the woman who says she was raped by Cleotha Abston, the man accused of abducting and killing Eliza Fletcher.

“We do not comment on pending litigation,” said Arlenia Cole, the city’s Media Affairs Manager.

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TBI’s Average Turnaround Time for Rape Kit Analysis Is 45 Weeks

According to data provided to The Tennessee Star by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the average time it takes for the state law enforcement agency to conduct analysis on sexual assault kits (SAKs) submitted to it by local law enforcement is 45 weeks. 

That figure accounts for SAKs that are reviewed by TBI’s Jackson crime lab. In its Nashville lab, TBI tests and analyzes SAKs in about 25 weeks. In its Knoxville lab, that figure is around 30 weeks. 

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TBI Says Standard Procedure Was Followed in Cleotha Abston Rape Case

In a statement provided Tuesday to The Tennessee Star, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said it followed standard procedure on securing and testing a sexual assault kit (SAK) in a case related to Cleotha Abston, who is also accused of kidnapping and murdering Eliza Fletcher. 

The following is part of TBI’s statement:

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Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Looking to Fill 39 Open Positions

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) recently announced that it is searching for interested and qualified candidates to fill 39 open positions in the department. TBI is currently looking to fill 3 TBI Police Officer positions in Davidson County as well as 36 TBI Special Agent/Criminal Investigator positions in multiple counties.

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Exclusive: Sen. Blackburn Discusses Fentanyl Crisis with TBI Special Agent

A U.S. senator from Tennessee sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Drug Task Force Director to expose America’s deadly fentanyl crisis that is getting worse by the day.

“Thousands of people are on the march toward our southern border as we speak. What do they want? Biden’s welcome package – free phone, free plane ticket, and free baby formula,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). “We know that among that group, drug dealers and smugglers are bringing across deadly amounts of fentanyl. I spoke with TBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas Farmer to expose how this crisis is devastating our communities.”

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Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Co-Hosts Active Shooter Response Training Seminar

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Tuesday hosted an event to teach citizens how to respond in the event that they encounter a mass shooter. 

“TBI is partnering with other sponsors in presenting this event to offer attendees information on how to increase emergency preparedness, understand critical response, and implement actions that increase survivability,” the law enforcement agency said on its Facebook page. “A TBI special agent will be among the panelists available following the seminar to answer questions.”

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Regional Blue Alert Shooting Suspects No Longer at Large; Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Addresses Concerns About Duplicate Cellphone Alerts

Wednesday morning, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) addressed reports of some Tennesseans receiving duplicate Blue Alerts on their mobile devices in the overnight hours for two separate officer-involved shooting suspects.

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Two-Year Drug Investigation Results in 39 Indictments Across Multiple States

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) announced 39 indictments were made in an ongoing drug investigation. The statement said undercover officers had followed a violent drug trafficking organization with ties to at least three states. 

“This operation is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when agencies work together,” said TBI Director David Rausch. “These dangerous drugs and the violence fueled by those dealing them is having a devastating impact on Knoxville and other areas in East Tennessee. That’s why we have a lot more work to do and will continue to target drug traffickers in our state.”

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Former Tennessee Clinic Owner Sentenced for Opioid Distribution

Close up of white pills

The Department of Justice announced last week a former Tennessee clinic owner was sentenced for opioid distribution. Mark Daniel Allen, who now lives in Venice, Florida, was sentenced to 168 months in prison and $700 in special assessments, “followed by three years of supervised released.”

According to court documents, Allen was found guilty on six counts of “unlawfully distributing controlled substances” and one count of “maintaining a drug-involved premises after a three-day trial” which started September 1, 2021. Evidence at the trial showed Allen unlawfully prescribed 15,000 opioid pills to three women “with whom he had sexual relationships,” and to a male patient who later passed away.

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New Bill Introduced Classifies Weaponizing Finances as Domestic Violence

A new bill proposed this week would classify weaponizing finances as domestic assault. It would be an amendment of the current Tennessee Code Annotated Title 36, Chapter 3, Part 6, relative to domestic abuse. Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) sponsored the bill. 

The bill, if approved, would add to the current definition of domestic violence.

“Abuse” means inflicting, or attempting to inflict, physical injury on an adult or minor by other than accidental means; placing an adult or minor in fear of physical harm; physical restraint; malicious damage to the personal property of the abused party, including inflicting, or attempting to inflict, physical injury on any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by an adult or minor; placing an adult or minor in fear of physical harm to any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the adult or minor; or controlling, regulating, monitoring, or depleting the finances, economic resources, credit, or ability to work or pursue education or job training of an adult.

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Memphis Man Arrested in Case of Vulnerable Adult Abuse

senior citizen

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) announced this week that an arrest was made in a vulnerable adult abuse case. The TBI had been investigating Memphis resident Terence Gray since November 12 after receiving leads from the Tennessee Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services.

The TBI determined that Gray, while working as a caregiver on November 9, had assaulted a 69-year-old vulnerable adult at a residence in the 3800 block of Ridgemont Avenue in Memphis.

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Metro Nashville Police Department Officer Kills Suspect in Shootout

Wednesday night a Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) officer killed a suspect after a brief shootout. 

“Fatal police shooting under investigation on Old Hickory Blvd W in Madison. Citizens called to report this abandoned Impala in the traffic lane with doors open & the sounds of gunfire from nearby woods. Officers repeatedly ordered the gunman to emerge & surrender…” MNPD said on Twitter. 

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Tennessee Season to Remember Ceremony Will Be Virtual Again This Year

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) announced in a press release its 19th annual Season to Remember ceremony will be held virtually this year. The ceremony, which is held to honor victims and survivors of homicide, will be streamed on the First Baptist Church’s YouTube page on December 2 at 5:30 PM.

The TBI said “Holidays can be a difficult time for families missing their loved ones, and particularly for victims and survivors of homicide. That’s why federal, state, and local public safety officials have hosted “Tennessee Season to Remember” every year since 2003 to honor and remember victims and survivors of homicide.”

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TBI Sting Nets a Dozen Alleged Human Traffickers in Chattanooga

Eleven men were arrested in Chattanooga this week for seeking illicit sex from minors, and one woman was charged with promoting prostitution.

The arrests were made during a two-day undercover Human Trafficking Operation run by Chattanooga Police, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Homeland Security Investigations, and the Tennessee Human Trafficking Task Force.

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Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Warns Citizens of Criminals Posing as TBI Officers in New Phone Scam

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) took to Twitter on Monday to let Tennesseans know about a current scam. The TBI announced that someone has been making calls claiming to be an officer with the TBI following up on a complaint and asking for personal information.

The TBI also said that the scammers have been ‘spoofing’ (when someone hides their actual phone number) their calls and using the TBI’s phone number instead.

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Annual ‘Crime in Tennessee’ Publication Says COVID-19 Affected Crime Numbers

David Rausch TBI

Members of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) this week released the agency’s 2020 Crime in Tennessee publication, which reported that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the state’s crime numbers. The publication details the volume and nature of crime, as reported by Tennessee’s law enforcement agencies, according to a TBI press release.

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Recovered Missing Children in Tennessee Were at Risk of Sex Trafficking, TBI Agents Say

Some of the missing 150 children that members of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation helped recover in a special operation are now in state custody after Tennessee officials said they were at risk for sex trafficking. State officials announced this at a press conference last week.

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TBI Investigates Police-Involved Shooting in Nashville of Suspect Who Allegedly Rammed Several Patrol Vehicles

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into an officer-involved shooting Wednesday of a suspect who allegedly rammed several police cars in north Nashville.

The TBI on Wednesday tweeted, “HAPPENING NOW: TBI Agents are investigating a reported officer-involved shooting in Nashville, at a location in the 2200 block of Brick Church Pike.”

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Reports of Cyber Crimes Against Tennessee Children Spiked During Pandemic Shutdown

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has received more than 450 tips of cyber crimes against children this year, TBI Director David Rausch said.

The bureau received 122 tips of cyber crimes against children in March, which was three times the number of tips received in January.

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Background-Check Increase Suggests Spike in Tennessee Firearms Sales

The Tennessee background-check system for firearms has been backlogged because of a spike in requests from firearm dealers, suggesting an uptick in sales amid COVID-19 concerns.

Between March 12 and March 16, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation processed 14,657 background checks. In a comparable period from last month – Feb. 13 through Feb. 17  – TBI processed 7,901 checks.

Although the system only tracks background checks processed and not the total number of firearms sold, the increase suggests more firearms are being purchased.

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Law Enforcement Officers Tell Senate Committee That Medical Marijuana Supporters Are Blowing Smoke, While Co-Sponsor Bowling Says Her Plan Provides Alternative to Opioids

State Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) on Thursday shared her continued support for allowing medical marijuana after a vote was postponed. The vote was delayed after Wednesday’s hearing in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, WJHL said. Bowling, of Tullahoma, is a co-sponsor of SB0486, the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act. The…

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Nashville Metro Council Opposes Civil Asset Forfeiture Without Criminal Conviction As State House Prepares for Hearing on Reform Bill

The Nashville Metropolitan Council approved a resolution opposing civil asset forfeiture without a criminal conviction on Tuesday, just as a bill aimed at reforming state civil asset forfeiture laws is scheduled to be heard in a House committee meeting this coming week. Nashville Metropolitan Council Resolution RS2019-1628 directs that the Metropolitan…

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Lawmakers Call For Acting TBI Director to Resign Over Alleged Affair With High-Ranking State Employee at Taxpayer Expense

TBI Chief

The acting director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is on paid leave and under investigation for an alleged affair at taxpayer expense, and some legislative leaders have called for his resignation, various media outlets reported. Acting Director Jason Locke will be off the job starting Wednesday, June 20, WKRN…

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Tennessee House Candidate Aaron Shane Puts Up $150,000 Of His Own Money To Oppose Representative Susan Lynn

Local businessman and first-time candidate for the Tennessee House 57th District, Aaron Shane, announced this week that he is putting $150,000 into his campaign to oppose Representative Susan Lynn in the August 2 Republican primary. Shane made the announcement of his significant personal financial commitment after beginning his campaign just…

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