NYPD Has No Backup For Its Seized Property Database, Recording Millions In Annual Seizures

Published on October 18, 2017, 3:35 pm
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The Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) is the NYPD’s huge database where it stores ownership information on the millions in New Yorkers’ property it takes charge of every year (including about $68m in cash and counting), through evidence collection and asset forfeiture.

Though the database is crucial to due process, and cost $25.5m in fees to Capgemini, the NYPD has no backup for the system.

The IT deficiency came to light when a nonprofit called Bronx Defenders tried to get details on the scale of NYPD property seizures, only to have the NYPD argue that it was not technologically possible to get records relating to the database. This spurred a round of Freedom of Information Act requests that revealed the NYPD has no backup for the system.

Also a matter of public record is the database’s cost: One of the 100 largest contracts of that fiscal year, the city paid New York-based vendor Capgemini more than $25.5 million in 2009 to design the database that it is now unsure how to back up.

Bluth will give the city another opportunity to present its own expert on the database’s limitations before holding another round of oral arguments on December 12. Bronx Defenders wants attorneys’ fees once the records are made available, it noted in an October 10 brief.

In addition to proceeds of the NYPD’s own forfeitures, an audit by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General reported in 2014 that the city received another $14 million through an arrangement called the Equitable Sharing Program that allows federal law enforcement to share seized assets with their local counterparts.


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