Three weeks after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in the Northeast, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that some evidence storage facilities experienced significant flooding which damaged evidence that may included DNA samples, reported The New York Times.
While it is not clear whether the ruined evidence is from open or closed cases, the damage could potentially affect the outcome of individual criminal cases, according to Kelly.
“We are waiting for an inventory before we can evaluate what the impact will be,” said Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney.
Prosecutors said that it did not appear that evidence collected in active rape cases — so-called rape kits — were stored at either of the facilities, though a definitive accounting of the contents of the facility had yet to be released.
In a worst-case scenario, evidence could have been washed away entirely which would be a major blow to New York City where evidence routinely goes missing. Earlier this year, the New York City Police Department, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Innocence Project were awarded a National Institute of Justice grant totaling $1.25 million to catalogue crime scene evidence so that those seeking to prove their innocence through DNA testing can more readily get access to evidence in their case.