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NYPD keeps sloppy records of contraband: Comptroller

City Comptroller William Thompson blasted the NYPD after an audit found the police have kept sloppy records of confiscated weapons.

The audit, released Tuesday, examined the police's Property Clerk Division during the fiscal years 1999 to 2007 and discovered that the office did not accurately account for its contraband inventory. The report found that Manhattan PCD officials could not immediately account or retrieve 94 out of 324 firearms that were confiscated by police.

"It's disgraceful that the NYPD has let its weapons go AWOL," Thompson said in a statement. "We found a stunning lack of organization, order and control. When it came to storing weapons, the NYPD simply wasn't up to the task."

Of the missing 94 firearms, 24 were later accounted for after at least five search attempts, while the remaining guns were reported by the Police Department to have been either returned to their owners or destroyed, the comptroller said.

In addition to the misplaced weapons, the report said the division failed to record pertinent information in its documents that would permit it to readily track and account for the firearms in its custody, while larger weapons were tossed about on the floor in a disheveled manner.

"Based on these conditions, there is limited assurance that firearms brought to the Manhattan PCD office are safe, secure and out of harm's way," the comptroller said.

The NYPD has one Property Clerk Division office in each borough to safeguard items and evidence from crime scenes, such as guns, cash and narcotics. The evidence is brought into each borough's PCD office and invoiced by officer, property owner and case, and that information is sent to the main police office in Manhattan, according to Thompson.

The audit recommended the NYPD change its system for collecting and maintaining items starting with a better and more organized storage space that separates rifles on shelves. The comptroller also urged the NYPD to create a computerized system for the PCD inventory.

In a response to the audit, the NYPD said it would consider the recommendations and told the comptroller that it is in the process of creating a property evidence tracking system.

"While I am encouraged by this effort, it is vital that the NYPD ensure that this program will come on line as quickly as possible," Thompson said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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