Transit lines, homes, and landmarks were all severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy—and we can now add a whole lot of police evidence. But exactly what evidence is unclear. "It may be some DNA evidence," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters yesterday. "It may be some other types of evidence that was flooded that we kept at our storage facilities. Significant flooding has taken place, no question about it. We are still trying to sort through this and assess the total damage."
"It is going to have to be addressed in a case by case basis," Kelly went on to explain. "What's available? Is it partially available? Is it totally destroyed?" Still, the NYPD has started to notify district attorney offices and other law enforcement agencies about damaged evidence that amy impact criminal cases. "It's a big job, we're still working to assess the impact to the evidence at the property clerk locations. This is an issue that is going to take time, and is going to have to be addressed."
What we do know is that up to 5,000 55-gallon cardboard drums, or "Biological Evidence Containers," located at the NYPD’s Erie Basin Auto Pound in Red Hook were contaminated by the Gowanus flood waters, according to NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. Further, "another estimated 1,000 drums were contaminated when the toxic Newtown Creek flooded the Kingsland Avenue warehouse in Greenpoint," the Post is reporting.
"There’s no question of extensive contamination of evidence," Browne went on. "How that is going to affect criminal cases going forward is still under review." And the local DAs are as in the dark about all of it as you are. "It’s premature to discuss whether damaged evidence affects cases in Kings County because we have not yet received an inventory from the NYPD," a spokesman for Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes said. And in case you were wondering why the NYPD wouldn't have backups of their evidence, a reporter asked that for you: "Well, typically you cannot duplicate evidence," Kelly quipped. "That's just the nature of evidence."
Beyond the many evidence barrels that may have been contaminated there is also the evidence located in precincts to consider. The 60th Precinct station house in Coney Island, for example, was still shuttered yesterday ("They have significant structural damage that's going to have to be addressed," Kelly explained). And the 76th and 94th precinct station houses in Carroll Gardens and Greenpoint, which are "central storehouses for evidence collected by the NYPD," sustained some of the most serious flooding during Sandy, according to DNAinfo's police sources.