No smoke on Ave. C, despite city warning

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, November 5, anyone signed up for the city Office of Emergency Management’s email alerts for things like scheduled fireworks, shots being fired, explosions or other things typically related to film shoots, got notice of a city exercise involving smoke at 23rd Street and Avenue C.

The “theatrical smoke,” the email explained, was to be part of an exercise to be conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. However, like most city alerts, it came as the exercise was already set to be taking place.

By the time this reporter got over there, there was no sign of smoke and the staffers at the Solar One building at the FDR Drive and 23rd Street said they hadn’t seen any either.

We reached out to a spokesperson for OCME, who confirmed that the exercise did in deed happen, but the smoke was contained. The rep, Julie Bowlsor, explained that the alert was sent out in the event anyone did happen to see smoke. “That way they would know there’s no cause for alarm,” she said. She added that the exercise may have taken place in the general area of the aforementioned location rather than 23rd Street exactly.

Had the smoke actually been visible, it would have made an interesting visual for the hundreds of kids who were piling into the riverfront by Solar One at that time. The kids were students from the nearby United Nations International School, which was conducting a fire drill.

Upon hearing this, Bowlsor said, “We’re sorry it was not as theatrical as promised.”

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Biden takes aim at rape kit backlog

(L-R) “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” Actress Mariska Hargitay, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Vice President Joe Biden at a press conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to discuss grants that would reduce the backlog of untested rape kits. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

(L-R) “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” Actress Mariska Hargitay, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Vice President Joe Biden at a press conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to discuss grants that would reduce the backlog of untested rape kits. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Vice President Joe Biden and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch joined Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance last Thursday to announce $38 million in grants that will be going to states across the country to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits.

The announcement about the grant money, which came from an initiative by the Manhattan DA’s office, was made at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on First Avenue and East 26th Street last Thursday. There, Biden and Lynch also took the opportunity to announce the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance’s separate but complementary grant program that awards $41 million in federal funding for the testing of sexual assault kits, for a total of $80 million in funding to address the national rape kit backlog.

The initiative from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office awarded grants to 32 jurisdictions in 20 states to test an estimated 56,475 rape kits and the initiative from BJA, known as the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (“SAKI”) Grant Program, is expected to test about 13,500 sexual assault kits in 20 jurisdictions.

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