Articles Tagged with policing for profit

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Back in April, I reported on the case of Arlene Harjo. When Arlene’s son drove her car while drunk, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) seized her car using a process known as civil asset forfeiture. They would not give it back even though she had committed no crime. Now, a federal judge presiding over her case has found that Albuquerque’s use of civil asset forfeiture is “unconstitutional.”

In 2015, a law was passed in New Mexico essentially banning civil asset forfeiture. This is the legal procedure where law enforcement can take an individual’s property when it is suspected of being involved in a crime. In most states, criminal charges do not need to be filed as this type of forfeiture is a civil, not a criminal, process.
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Josh Gingerich of Yuba City in northern California buys and flips trucks for a living. On a buying trip in February, the DEA stopped Josh at the airport and confiscated the $29,000 in cash he was carrying. Josh was not arrested, nor did he commit any crime. Despite this, the DEA is refusing to give his money back.

Law enforcement was able to take Josh’s money using a process called civil asset forfeiture. This is a legal procedure where property or cash can be seized if it has been suspected of involvement in a crime. As it is a civil and not a legal procedure, in most states property owners do not need to be charged with a crime before their property may be taken.
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On Thanksgiving Day, 2016, Aaron Dorn was arrested by state troopers in North Dakota. Aaron, who is from upstate New York, was in North Dakota protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. He was arrested in Mandan, to the west of state capital Bismarck. The officer who arrested him said Aaron had swerved his Chevrolet Silverado in order to ram his vehicle into traffic on Main Street.

Aaron was charged with reckless endangerment, and his truck was seized using a process known as civil asset forfeiture. This is a procedure used by law enforcement to take property or cash even if the owner has not been convicted of a crime. In June this year, Aaron was acquitted of all criminal charges related to his arrest. Despite this, he has been unable to get his truck back. Since the vehicle was seized in a civil process and not as part of the criminal case, it is regarded as a separate matter legally.
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More than six years after Oklahoma City police officers took nearly $120,000 from Quociong Da Ngo, they have finally been ordered to return the money to him. At the time, police used a process known as civil asset forfeiture to seize the money. This meant that, even though he was cleared of any crime, Ngo still had to fight in court to get his money back.

On Jan. 26, 2012, a police officer pulled Ngo over for using his turn signal for only a short time before changing lanes on Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City. Ngo was also driving 10 miles an hour below the speed limit. He explained to the officer that he had rented the car for a vacation and had traveled all the way from Florida, stopping in Georgia and Arkansas.
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A leaked handbook used by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents is providing insight into how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses civil asset forfeiture. Every year, ICE seizes millions of dollars of property even when they do not have enough evidence to press criminal charges.

The 71-page “Asset Forfeiture Handbook” stresses the importance of funds obtained through civil asset forfeiture to ICE. Not only do these seizures help “fund future law enforcement actions,” they also cover costs “HSI would otherwise be unable to fund.” ICE has confirmed that the handbook, although published in 2010, still represents current guidance for their agents on civil asset forfeiture.
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