Monday, March 2, 2015

Asset Forfeiture

Some agencies have used asset forfeiture to line their own pockets.  They have seized cars and kept them for use in patrol, or more typically, for special units.  They have seized real estate and then kept the property for their own use.  Sometimes they have seized property and then used it as a lever to gain control of property, even if people are never convicted of a crime.  Any property seized that is held in escrow should be part of a probable cause hearing to show that someone has been arrested for a crime and his being prosecuted for crimes that can reasonably bring asset forfeiture.

Some agencies have gone after specific criminals because they had assets the agency wanted to seize.  That is not how law enforcement is supposed to work.  Law enforcement is supposed to be for the good of the public, not for the enrichment of the agency.  One of the reasons I am opposed to red light cameras is that they are used as a revenue source, rather than as a real law enforcement tool.

Asset forfeiture is a powerful tool.  Like any power it has a potential to corrupt.  Police agencies need to have oversight and should have procedures in place to prevent them from simply taking goods from people who have not been convicted of any crime.  Criminals should not be able to profit from their evil and so we should continue to use this tool, but more carefully; that's what the SGT Says.

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