Julie Humphreys, Spokane Police Department – Communication Director, 509.622.5868
Tuesday, November 22, 2022 at 4:05 p.m.
It looks like a used car lot only the vehicles here all have something atypical in common – a criminal nexus. This is the vehicle storage area of the Spokane Police Department’s Property and Evidence Facility. Hundreds of vehicles with hundreds of stories are kept here while criminal cases are investigated and adjudicated.
“What you see on the walls are your Major Crimes – robbery, homicide, assaults, down the middle- your drug cases”
Kevin Berry is SPD’s Evidence Supervisor. He knows the stories behind many of these vehicles that were somehow involved in a crime. Like this car from a 2006 homicide case. Until just recently, it was the oldest vehicle in storage -16 years. Since investigations and court proceedings can take years and years, most of these vehicles spend a good portion of their lives here. Cars and trucks are constantly moved around as cases are closed or advanced, or vehicles from new cases are brought in. But how to move them without getting inside, because these vehicles are evidence and contain evidence that can’t be tampered with or touched. Enter the Stringo.
The City of Spokane purchased the vehicle mover 10 years ago so property didn’t have to rely on tow trucks to move metal. The Stringo paid for itself in 3 years and has since saved the City/taxpayers more than $300,000 in tow bills while moving well over 5,000 vehicles.
“It’s like a big game of Tetris, where’s there’s a space – we can get vehicles into pretty tightly. Space is an issue as you can see, we are overcapacity as far as maneuverability and ease of use”
This year Spokane Police property has taken in more vehicles than it can release. An increase in major crimes cases including a significant rise in vehicular homicide and vehicular assault is part of the reason. The increase means the Stringo is even more critical to property operations. In 2012 when SPD began using the Stringo, it was the only unit west of the Mississippi. Today, law enforcement agencies from around the region have traveled to Spokane to test drive the Stringo for their own use.
The end of the road here is to wrap up cases, clear vehicles and return them to their owners or otherwise dispose of them… but in the meantime, Kevin and his team drive the Stringo…moving cars and trucks in, out, and around…vehicles that like all items at the Police Property Facility, have stories, crimes, tragedies attached to them.
“Same with a vehicle, it’s just an item, something bad happened in it or around it, we don’t dwell on that. It’s a rewarding position to find stolen goods, guns, computers, and return them to their rightful owner.”