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Articles Tagged with policing for profit

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squad-car-1209719_1920-300x162A report released yesterday questions the value of civil asset forfeiture as a means to reduce crime. While proponents of forfeiture tout its ability to target drug traffickers, the report argues that forfeiture as a practice has not led to reduced drug use. The report also argues that that revenue from forfeitures has only led to a “very small” increase in the number of crimes solved.

In its report, “Fighting Crime or Raising Revenue,” the Institute for Justice looked at ten years of data relating to the federal equitable sharing program. Civil asset forfeiture is a procedure whereby law enforcement agencies may take possession of an individual’s property if it is suspected of being involved in a crime. Equitable sharing is a specific form of asset forfeiture where local or state law enforcement team up with the feds on a case.
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technology-2500010_1920-300x200On the morning of January 22, 2018, Anthony Gambino was driving on I-95 just south of Dock Junction, Georgia heading towards Florida when he was pulled over for speeding. According to court documents, when Camden County Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Kelly spoke to Gambino, Gambino “appeared nervous, fidgety, apologetic, and talkative.”

Gambino showed Deputy Kelly his New York drivers’ license, a license which Kelly verified had been suspended. Kelly let Gambino know that, since he was driving on a suspended license, he would be taken to county jail. Gambino let Deputy Kelly know he had a duffel back containing $55,000 with him in the car. Once Gambino was locked in the back of the police car, Deputy Kelly called for backup.
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drugs-2793133_1920-300x200In 2016, Ambioris Cruz was in a Nissan Murano SUV together with Jose Veloz in Reading, Pennsylvania. With them in the car were $5,000 in cash and several bags of drugs. They were waiting for one of their associates to show. They were waiting to make a drug deal.

What Cruz and Veloz didn’t know was that the police had turned their associate against them. Law enforcement officers were observing from a distance. When the time was right, the police rushed in. They arrested the pair and seized the SUV, cash, and drugs.
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highway-828985_1920-300x200Between 2016 and 2017, police officers in Phelps County, Missouri seized over $2.5 million during traffic stops along a 20-mile stretch of I-44. Law enforcement did not file any criminal charges for those seizures.

The property was taken using a legal procedure known as civil asset forfeiture. This controversial procedure allows law enforcement to seize an individual’s property if said property is suspected of being involved in a crime.

In criminal procedures, proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is required to gain a conviction. As civil asset forfeiture is a civil and not a criminal process, the standard of proof required to permanently take property is usually lower. In Missouri, all that is required is “a preponderance of the evidence.”
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philadelphia-1740685_1920-300x241On March 23, 2016, police arrested Christopher “Bmore” Hawkins, age 46, of Spring Garden Township, Pennsylvania on drug charges. Hawkins was caught attempting to sell heroin to two informants. As part of his plea bargain, Hawkins pleaded guilty to several charges, including “possession with intent to deliver heroin” in order to receive a prison sentence between four and eight years.

During a search of his house, law enforcement officials seized several items. These included televisions, a 1996 Dodge Neon, and a 2004 Mercedes-Benz CLK. Police were able to take possession of Hawkins’ property using a procedure known as civil asset forfeiture, which gives police the power to seize a person’s property or assets if said property and assets are suspected of being involved in a crime.
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