SFPD says evidence room cat problem under control

April 8, 2010 10:40:19 PM PDT
From a drug lab scandal to an army of feral felines looking for crime evidence to feast on; what is next for the San Francisco Police Department's litany of bad luck?

The media was taken on a guided tour of the police evidence area, housed in a warehouse in a secure area of former Hunters Point Naval Shipyards to see for themselves the condition of the facility.

The police evidence area is where the SFPD stores evidence, mainly from old crimes. It is near the scandal plagued crime lab, which was shut down by Chief George Gascon when investigators found that a former lab technician had stolen cocaine evidence late last year.

"This is about an evidence facility that's lacking space. This is about a situation where we don't have enough manpower to handle the problem," Gascon said.

Police discovered late last month that feral cats have been living in the area, eating rodents and going to the bathroom in and around police files and boxes where the evidence is stored.

The cats have plenty to nibble on because of the heavy construction around the area which is unearthing rats.

During the tour, ABC7 saw no cats, nor any evidence that there are any left. Assistant Chief Jeff Godown, who is leading the investigation of the Crime Lab and has overall responsibility for the Evidence Unit, believes the cat problem has been solved.

A bigger problem, Godown says, is the lack of space and manpower needed to efficiently manage and maintain the thousands of items of evidence stored in the property warehouse. But Godown says the department has no money to pay for any changes.

Ironically, it was the police department that brought the cats to the site several years ago to eat a multiplying colony of rodents. But the department's strategy got out of hand and the cats began multiplying.

"I felt it necessary to get rid of the cats, have the Humane Society come in and take the cats away and then we'll just deal with the rodent problem," Godown said.

The department has asked the City Animal Care and Control Agency to trap the cats and humanely take care of the situation.

Animal Control's Capt. Vicky Guldbech told ABC7 that they have caught four to five cats and have turned them over to the SPCA to be sprayed and neutered and presumably given up for adoption or returned to the wild to other feral cat colonies.


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