Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Now police departments are building civil asset forfeiture into their future budgets

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If the police build proceeds from civil asset forfeiture (a legal form of robbery that allows the police to take property from people not even accused of a crime) into their budgets, then very soon we’ll see civil asset forfeiture quotas that police officers must meet. Robert O’Harrow, Jr., and Steven Rich write in the Washington Post:

D.C. police have made plans for millions of dollars in anticipated proceeds from future civil seizures of cash and property, even though federal guidelines say “agencies may not commit” to such spending in advance, documents show.

The city’s proposed budget and financial plan for fiscal 2015 includes about $2.7 million for the District police department’s “special purpose fund” through 2018. The fund covers payments for informants and rewards.

The financial details emerged Wednesday, when the D.C. Council’s judiciary committee unanimously voted to forward a bill that would overhaul asset forfeiture laws in the nation’s capital. The bill would raise the threshold of proof required for a forfeiture, bolster the rights of individuals whose property has been taken and require that proceeds from seizures under federal law go into the city general fund, rather than directly to the police department. The full council is set to vote on the bill Tuesday.

Council member Tommy Wells, chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, said police should not have a financial incentive to make seizures. He said the bill addresses problems that are common across the country.

“All across the nation, law enforcement agencies are directly benefiting from forfeiture,” said Wells (D-Ward 6), who is leading the effort to reform asset forfeiture in the District. “In those places, forfeiture proceeds go directly to the law enforcement entity, creating at best the appearance of a conflict of interest, and at worst, an unchecked incentive for slush funds.”

Civil forfeiture laws permit local and state police to take cash, cars, homes and other property from people suspected of involvement in drug trafficking or other wrongdoing without proving a crime has occurred. Police can make seizures under state or federal laws.

Since 2009, D.C. officers have made more than 12,000 seizures under city and federal laws, according to records and data obtained from the city byThe Washington Post through the District’s open records law. Half of the more than $5.5 million in cash seizures were for $141 or less, with more than a thousand for less than $20. D.C. police have seized more than 1,000 cars, some for minor offenses allegedly committed by the children or friends of the vehicle owners, documents show.

When D.C. police seize cash or property under District law, the proceeds go into the city’s general fund. But proceeds of seizures made under federal law go directly to the police department through the Justice Department’sEquitable Sharing Program, which allows local departments to join with federal agencies in forfeitures and keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds. . .

Continue reading. There’s a video at the link you may want to see. It is well worth watching.

And the entire column is well worth reading. In civil asset forfeiture we see the government in the US start to turn on citizens and begin to treat all citizens as criminals—unless the citizen can prove otherwise. This is strong-arm, repressive, out-of-control government that is moving toward a police state in which citizens are powerless victims of the state. We’re not there yet, but that’s where we’re headed.

More from the “Stop and Seize” series:

Part 1: Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes

Part 2: Pollice intelligence targets cash

Part 3: They fought the law. Who won?

Part 4: Asset seizures fuel police spending

Part 5: Highway seizure in Iowa fuels debate about asset-forfeiture laws

Written by LeisureGuy

16 November 2014 at 7:41 am

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