About 300,000 pieces of evidence jam the Portland Police property evidence warehouse on a dead-end street near downtown, says The Oregonian. Each item has a story behind it. There are guns, but also “gumball machines, marijuana plants drying in burlap bags, and backpacks in every color and shape. A freezer with DNA swabs. Home videos from a drug case. Peanut butter Girl Scout cookies.” “We’ve picked up some mighty weird stuff,” says Bill Swanson, property evidence supervisor of the 50,000-square-foot warehouse.
The warehouse is bursting at the seams after filling up for two decades with evidence from crimes being investigated or prosecuted, cold case files, prisoner property, stolen items, or lost items turned in to police. The 15 full-time employees log in about 5,000 items each month. They dispose of only about half as many when personal property gets retrieved or when police resolve a case and release evidence to be incinerated, trashed or auctioned on eBay. Manager John P. Smith needs a new location. “We’ve had times in the last couple of months where we’re basically prepared to tell our detectives that if they end up having a big drug raid where they end up taking a lot of evidence and property, they might have to be prepared to get their own storage space,” he says. “Because if it’s too much stuff, we don’t have the space for it.”