NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Gov. Bill Lee and legislative leaders announced a plan allowing the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to hire more personnel in an effort to reduce the turnaround time for sexual assault kits.

According to the governor’s office, the move will expedite the hiring process for 25 new forensic lab positions. The new positions will include scientists, technicians, and administrative support. Of the new positions, eight will be at the TBI’s Jackson laboratory, 11 at its Nashville lab, and six at its Knoxville lab.

The plan by Gov. Lee, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, and House Speaker Cameron Sexton will let the TBI fill the new positions ahead of the next state budget. The governor’s office says recurring funding for the new positions will be included in the fiscal year 2023–2024 budget. Until then, the TBI will use funds from the current budget to fund the new positions.

“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 turn around times as quickly as possible,” Lee said in a release. “I’m grateful for the partnership of Lieutenant Governor McNally, Speaker Sexton and the General Assembly in this important action, and our efforts to strengthen public safety will continue.”

TBI Director David Rausch said: “The commitment to fund additional positions will help us get a jump on the necessary training time to get new scientists prepared to perform their duties. This is a critical step in the process.”