The drop in arrests coincides with President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency for the coronavirus on March 13. Police have been making fewer arrests, and that trend appears to be continuing into April, with fewer than 40 jail bookings per day in a county of more than 1.5 million people.
Civil asset forfeiture is different from most legal processes, where law enforcement officials seize property they assert has been involved in criminal activity. One need not be involved or charged with a crime in order for his or her property to be seized. In other words, in civil asset forfeiture proceedings, it’s essentially the property that is charged with the crime.
Forfeiture laws have been used historically and are intended to be used as tools to fight organized crime. When targeting criminal organizations whose sheer amount resources make them incredibly difficult to prosecute, having a legal means to seize the assets of these organizations can be helpful in weakening them. In practice, however, civil asset forfeiture laws are not always used in this way.
Looters have reportedly been breaking into empty homes and businesses around Florida despite stern warnings from authorities. Some have been caught on camera.
ABC News caught footage of a group looting a shoe store in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. The footage shows looters leaving Simon’s Sportswear with boxes of shoes. The perpetrators went on to rob a nearby pawn shop, sources say.
The suspects, six adults and three teens, were arrested by Fort Lauderdale Police hours later. The adults were identified as Rossano Henry Jr., Tyrell Pratt, Teonhki Robinson, Kenneth Pinkney, Michael Brown, and Zara Dumornay. All the suspects are charged with burglary during a natural disaster.