Articles Tagged with policing for profit

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silverado-2629366_1920-300x200Even though he was acquitted of the criminal charge leveled against him, Aaron Dorn still lost his truck to a process known as civil asset forfeiture. Inspired by Aaron’s case, a North Dakota state representative is introducing a bill to reform civil forfeiture in the state.

Last summer, I reported on Dorn’s situation. In the fall of 2016, he had traveled from his home in New York state to join the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Aaron was arrested by a police officer who claimed Dorn had attempted to ram the officer’s police car with his 2003 Chevrolet Silverado.
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auto-automobile-blur-532001-300x200In just five months in 2016, police in New Jersey seized over $5.5 million in cash and property from individuals using civil asset forfeiture. This is according to a report published by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. The report also found that there is almost no oversight on civil forfeiture in the state.

The seizures included houses, electronics, clothes, a massage table, and baseball cards, not to mention the hundreds of vehicles also taken. Civil asset forfeiture is a legal process where law enforcement is allowed to take the property of citizens if that property is suspected of being involved in a crime, and in most states, a criminal conviction is not required for property to be taken.
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money-1428594_1920-300x200In February 2018, a housekeeper in a hotel in St. Matthews, Kentucky found $193,049 hidden away in room 403. The hotel’s management called local law enforcement, who suspected the cash was linked to drugs.

The St. Matthews Police Department filed a civil lawsuit against the man who had rented the room. His co-defendant in the case was the $193,049. A judge ordered that the police department could keep 85 percent of the cash while the remaining 15 percent would go to the prosecutor’s office. The man who rented the room was not charged with any crime.
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sunset-49383_1920-300x225For more than three months, police departments in Mississippi have seized property from individuals with no legal authority after a forfeiture law quietly lapsed. Law enforcement agencies say they did not notice the lapse.

The law in question had allowed police agencies to seize cash or property suspected of being involved with illicit drugs unless the owner challenged it in court within 30 days of the seizure. This procedure is called “administrative forfeiture” and was used for seizures which totaled less than $20,000. For larger sums, “judicial forfeiture” was used. Judicial forfeiture requires law enforcement agencies to sue in court in order to have a judge sanction the forfeiture. The burden of proof for judicial forfeitures is also higher than for administrative forfeitures.
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adventure-asphalt-california-533671-300x200In December 2017, Zeke Flatten was pulled over while driving on Highway 101 in California. He was traveling south through Humboldt County and was stopped a little way north of the Mendocino County line. Zeke was not speeding, nor breaking any other traffic laws

At first, the officers did not identify which law enforcement department they worked for. They did not wear departmental badges, nor did they have name tags. They had pulled him over in an unmarked, black Police Interceptor.

As Zeke later said, “At this point, I really felt something was wrong.” Zeke, a resident of Texas, was traveling in a rental car. He showed the officers the car rental agreement and his driver’s license.
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