I have posted similar articles. The best advice is: do what they say. Tell the officer what you are doing, i.e. “I am getting my license”. Move slowly, with your hands visible at all times. Do not reach under the seat; if you need to, tell the officer why you need to. Record the encounter. Complain later if you have a complaint.
For more examples of extreme abuse open the Whole Story.
Excerpts from the Article:
We’ve all been there before. You’re driving along and you see a pair of flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror. Whether or not you’ve done anything wrong, you get a sinking feeling in your stomach.
You’ve read enough news stories, seen enough headlines, and lived in the American police state long enough to be anxious about any encounter with a cop that takes place on the side of the road. For better or worse, from the moment you’re pulled over, you’re at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect.”
This is what I call “blank check policing,” in which the police get to call all of the shots.So if you’re nervous about traffic stops, you have every reason to be.
Zachary Noel was tasered by police and charged with resisting arrest after he questioned why he was being ordered out of his truck during a traffic stop. “Because I’m telling you to,” the officer replied before repeating his order for Noel to get out of the vehicle and then, without warning, shooting him with a taser through the open window.
Unfortunately, as Gregory Tucker learned the hard way, there are no longer any fail-safe rules of engagement for interacting with the police. It was in the early morning hours of Dec. 1, 2016, when Tucker, a young African-American man, was pulled over by Louisiana police for a broken taillight. Because he did not feel safe stopping immediately, Tucker drove calmly and slowly to a safe, well-lit area a few minutes away before stopping in front of his cousin’s house. That’s when what should have been a routine traffic stop became yet another example of police brutality in America and another reason why Americans are justified in their fear of cops.
According to the lawsuit that was filed in federal court by The Rutherford Institute, police ordered Tucker out of his vehicle, and after he had stepped out, immediately placed him under arrest for “resisting” (in this case, not immediately stopping) and searched his person and his vehicle. Tucker was then ordered to move to the front of the police vehicle and place his hands on its hood.
Two more police officers arrived on the scene, walked up behind Tucker, and grabbed his arms to restrain and handcuffed him.
Then the fourth police officer arrived on the scene. According to police dash cam footage, Tucker was thrown to the ground and punched numerous times in the head and body. The police also yelled repeatedly at Tucker to “quit resisting.” Tucker, bleeding with injuries to his face, head and arm, was then placed into the back of a police vehicle and EMTs were called to treat him. He was eventually taken to the hospital for severe injuries to his face and arm.
Mind you, this young man complied with police. He just didn’t do it fast enough to suit their purposes. This young man submitted to police. He didn’t challenge police authority when they frisked him, searched his car, handcuffed him, and beat him to a pulp. If this young man is “guilty” of anything, he’s guilty of ticking off the cops by being cautious, concerned for his safety, and all too aware of the dangers faced by young black men during encounters with the police.
Frankly, you don’t even have to be young or black or a man to fear for your life during an encounter with the police.
Just consider the growing numbers of unarmed people are who being shot and killed just for standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety. According to the Justice Department, the most common reason for a citizen to come into contact with the police is being a driver in a traffic stop.
On average, one in 10 Americans gets pulled over by police.
Black drivers are 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers, or about 23 percent more likely than Hispanic drivers. As the Washington Post concludes, “‘Driving while black’ is, indeed, a measurable phenomenon.”
Indeed, police officers have been given free range to pull anyone over for a variety of reasons. This free-handed approach to traffic stops has resulted in drivers being stopped for windows that are too heavily tinted, for driving too fast, driving too slow, failing to maintain speed, following too closely, improper lane changes, distracted driving, screeching a car’s tires, and leaving a parked car door open for too long.
Motorists can also be stopped by police for driving near a bar or on a road that has large amounts of drunk driving, driving a certain make of car (Mercedes, Grand Prix and Hummers are among the most ticketed vehicles), having anything dangling from the rearview mirror (air fresheners, handicap parking permits, troll transponders or rosaries), and displaying pro-police bumper stickers.
Equally appalling, in Heien v. North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court—which has largely paved the way for the police and other government agents to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance—allowed police officers to stop drivers who appear nervous, provided they provide a palatable pretext for doing so.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the lone objector in the case. Dissenting in Heien, Sotomayor warned, “Giving officers license to effect seizures so long as they can attach to their reasonable view of the facts some reasonable legal interpretation (or misinterpretation) that suggests a law has been violated significantly expands this authority… One wonders how a citizen seeking to be law-abiding and to structure his or her behavior to avoid these invasive, frightening, and humiliating encounters could do so.”
Remember Walter L. Scott? Reportedly pulled over for a broken taillight, Scott—unarmed—ran away from the police officer, who pursued and shot him from behind, first with a Taser, then with a gun. Scott was struck five times, “three times in the back, once in the upper buttocks and once in the ear — with at least one bullet entering his heart.” Samuel Dubose, also unarmed, was pulled over for a missing front license plate. He was reportedly shot in the head after a brief struggle in which his car began rolling forward.
Technically, you have the right to remain silent (beyond the basic requirement to identify yourself and show your registration). You have the right to refuse to have your vehicle searched. You have the right to film your interaction with police. You have the right to ask to leave. You also have the right to resist an unlawful order such as a police officer directing you to extinguish your cigarette, put away your phone or stop recording them.
However, there is a price for asserting one’s rights. That price grows more costly with every passing day.
In a nutshell, the following are your basic rights when it comes to interactions with the police as outlined in the Bill of Rights:
You have the right under the First Amendment to ask questions and express yourself. You have the right under the Fourth Amendment to not have your person or your property searched by police or any government agent unless they have a search warrant authorizing them to do so. You have the right under the Fifth Amendment to remain silent, to not incriminate yourself and to request an attorney. Depending on which state you live in and whether your encounter with police is consensual as opposed to your being temporarily detained or arrested, you may have the right to refuse to identify yourself. Presently, 26 states do not require citizens to show their ID to an officer (drivers in all states must do so, however).
As a rule of thumb, you should always be sure to clarify in any police encounter whether or not you are being detained, i.e., whether you have the right to walk away. That holds true whether it’s a casual “show your ID” request on a boardwalk, a stop-and-frisk search on a city street, or a traffic stop for speeding or just to check your insurance. If you feel like you can’t walk away from a police encounter of your own volition—and more often than not you can’t, especially when you’re being confronted by someone armed to the hilt with all manner of militarized weaponry and gear—then for all intents and purposes, you’re essentially under arrest from the moment a cop stops you. Still, it doesn’t hurt to clarify that distinction.
While technology is always going to be a double-edged sword, with the gadgets that are the most useful to us in our daily lives—GPS devices, cell phones, the internet—being the very tools used by the government to track us, monitor our activities, and generally spy on us, cell phones are particularly useful for recording encounters with the police and have proven to be increasingly powerful reminders to police that they are not all-powerful.
A good resource is The Rutherford Institute’s “Constitutional Q&A: Rules of Engagement for Interacting with Police.”
Clearly, in the American police state, compliance is no guarantee that you will survive an encounter with the police with your life and liberties intact.
So if you’re starting to feel somewhat overwhelmed, intimidated and fearful for your life and the lives of your loved ones, you should be.
This is a major nationwide problems, and cities, counties, and states should allocate money toward fixing it. Make it a priority. The system is so screwed up that, for several reasons, it has affected the front line of defense against crime: our police. READ It is a tough time to be a cop
Is this a crisis yet? Maybe. There is much more to this article. If you’re interested in safety, open it up and read it.
Increase pay and benefits
Provide bonuses to make it worthwhile to stay; a 5 year bonus, a 10 year bonus
Become increasingly involved in community affairs – mix and mingle with those they serve.
Target minorities as employees
Excerpts from the Article:
Officer Kyle Borden steered his black-and-white patrol car onto U.S. 13 and cruised past the farmers market before darting in and out of New Castle neighborhoods. The young cop, with only two years on the job, was the only officer that night patrolling the streets, covering the city’s 5,500 residents. The City of New Castle has 18 positions for police officers, but rarely are they all filled. Well-paying jobs sit open for months, waiting for qualified and willing candidates. Even when jobs are filled, turnover remains high as officers leapfrog to larger departments.
“Now, we’re all competing for the same person,” New Castle’s Chief Richard McCabe said. “And small guys like us are losing.”
Delaware’s police departments are struggling to stay fully-staffed amid a growing state population. Understaffed departments are leading to fewer patrols and slower response times in some towns.
In an era in which police are highly scrutinized and the profession is easily tainted by a few bad cops, police agencies across the nation are struggling to fill their ranks.
Delaware has 46 police departments, and most of them have fewer than 50 officers. Only five police departments — Delaware State Police, New Castle County, Wilmington, Dover and Newark — have bigger forces. Over the past few years, the smaller departments have seen a declining interest in police work and have struggled to lure experienced cops with the salaries they offer. Even when small stations hire a fresh face, they bear a high cost of putting them through seven months at the police academy and three months of field training. And within a few years, many of those rookies are lured away by larger agencies.
For Borden, becoming a cop came with its difficulties. He feels constant pressure that everything he does reflects on his badge. Borden doesn’t feel like he can stop being an officer when he gets off work, and because of that, he has lost friends along the way.
Borden is thankful New Castle took a chance on him and likes getting to know the community he protects. But, he also realizes there are opportunities he is missing out on, including more training and more specialized work. “At some point, it might weigh on me more, but positives outweigh the negatives for me now,” he said.
The City of New Castle currently has three of its 18 positions vacant. One job posting for more than $50,000 has been open for four months. “It’s horrible,” New Castle’s Chief Richard McCabe said. “We can’t find people who want to do this for a living anymore.”
In the suburban and university town of Newark, interest in police jobs has been erratic. In 2010, the department received 162 applicants for five positions. By 2016, that number dropped to 58 applicants for six spots. Between retirements and resignations, the department has not been fully-staffed in years, Lt. Andrew Rubin said. “We lose people, and we’re running short,” he said. “We are constantly playing catch-up.”
No department is immune to public backlash after cell phone videos of aggressive police interactions surface.
In South Bethany, all but one of the police department’s officers deserted the Sussex County station about a month ago, leaving Sgt. Patrick Wiley to man a town of 1,400 homes. Much of South Bethany’s homes are seasonal, so Wiley hopes they hire at least a police chief before the summer months hit. The department has two officers in training and is hiring for two remaining positions.
Pay is a big part of retaining officers in small towns, said Von Goerres, who retired from the state police after 30 years. Without his state pension, he couldn’t live on the salary provided by the town, he said. “A young person couldn’t live alone on this,” Von Goerres said.
Milford faces a pressing population increase, at an estimated 130 new homes each year, Mayor Campbell said. The current size of his department cannot effectively handle the increased crime a bigger town brings, he said. “With the growth we are having in Milford, I’m hurting for police officers,” Campbell said. Milford was approved for five more officers last year. They once had around 100 applications for a spot, but these days they get about 30, said Mayor Archie Campbell.
The process to become a police officer is long and intensive. It can take two years before a candidate can hit the streets as a patrol officer.
Paying a candidate’s salary and benefits through the academy and field training can cost departments around $90,000 per officer. That’s a risky investment for smaller departments knowing fresh graduates can leave as soon as a year after finishing the academy.
The path to becoming an officer includes:
A several month-long interview process
A physical fitness test
An aptitude test
An extensive background check, where the department interviews families, schools, and anyone the candidate had relationships with
an interview with the chief
Then, those accepted head to academy.
The academy includes about seven months of classroom work, while recruits face military boot camp-like training. Graduates then have three months of field training, before they are on the streets by themselves.
“From the day we hired you, you aren’t beneficial to us for a while,” Lt. Andrew Rubin of Newark police said. Delaware law requires a recruit to work two years at the police department sponsoring them, but that’s not enough time for smaller departments to feel like that burden is worth it.
Including ten months of training, the two-year agreement hardly makes sense for small departments, said Chief Lisa Giles of Elsmere police. Elsmere and a few other departments like Delaware City and Middletown now require potential recruits to sign a 5-year agreement.
It’s common for officers at smaller departments to move to large departments like Wilmington, New Castle County and the state police after a few years. The tug of a bigger salary, better benefits, better retirement plans and specialized fields draw them in. A small-town officer could see a salary increase of more than 60 percent at the larger agencies.
Wilmington police recently began its 99th academy with fewer applicants than they hoped. City councilman, Bob Williams, a former Wilmington cop, said the 179 applicants received this year is a dramatic reduction from the 800 applicants when he applied 20 years ago.
More than 63 percent of departments across the country reported a decrease in job candidates, according to a Police Executive Research Forum survey reports.
Agencies are using trial and error tactics to get more badges on the street. Most of the ideas include incentives like signing or academy graduation bonus, while others offer support outside of work with housing, childcare or relocation assistance.
Some have reduced education requirements. Horvath of the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council agrees that agencies in the state could ease educational standards. Having a college degree doesn’t equate to being a good cop. “It’s a job that requires a high degree of integrity and a lot of common sense,” Horvath said.
In Delaware police chief meetings, they are trying to figure out how to make the best with the current situation. Chiefs share information about good applicants, and have talked about creating an applicant pool for smaller police departments, Horvath said. Someone who applied to Middletown but didn’t make the cut could be a good candidate for Elsmere.
A proven source to find candidates is through a summer police program. Seasonal help has brought younger candidates into smaller departments, McCabe said. The seasonal hires work the summer months walking or biking around, handing out citations, checking out suspicious activity, and investigating complaints. Police chiefs encourage anyone considering the job to test it out for summer.
Florida Deputy Falsifies Drug Field-Test Results, Freeing 11 From Jail – Steven O’Leary MUST be prosecuted! – kra
More cases surely will be dropped, and this dirty cop MUST be prosecuted.
Excerpts from the Article:
Steven O’Leary was a preacher before switching his career to law enforcement. The career-changing, job-hopping cop held jobs at two different departments.
O’Leary might face criminal charges himself.
Good, because the only thing worse than a dirty cop is a dirty prosecutor or judge!
Excerpts from the Article:
A fired Philadelphia police officer who led a double life as a criminal was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison as part of a Baltimore racketeering case that exposed one of the worst U.S. police corruption scandals in recent memory. Eric Snell had pleaded guilty three days into his trial on charges that he conspired to sell drugs with members of a rogue Baltimore police unit called the Gun Trace Task Force, a plainclothes squad that resold looted narcotics, conducted robberies and falsified evidence.
“Prosecuting law enforcement officers is painful but necessary if we are to restore the public’s trust in our justice system. No one is above the law,” Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said in a statement after Snell’s sentencing.
Snell was an officer in Baltimore from 2005 to 2008 before joining the Philadelphia Police Department. He went through police training with disgraced Baltimore Detective Jemell Rayam, who pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and testified on behalf of the government. The two had become buddies in the Baltimore police academy and kept in contact after Snell joined the Philadelphia force in 2014.
As part of his guilty plea in the far-reaching federal investigation, Snell admitted that from at least October 2016 through late June 2017 he conspired with Rayam and others to sell heroin and cocaine seized by Baltimore police officers.
In October 2016, Rayam and other Baltimore officers chased a driver who threw 9 ounces (255 grams) of cocaine out of his car’s window, court documents say. Authorities said one of his colleagues told Rayam to sell the drugs instead of putting it into a police evidence room. Rayam, Snell and Snell’s brother later met at Snell’s home in Philadelphia to plan the sale of the narcotics, according to authorities.
When Snell was arrested in late 2017 at his Philadelphia home, he became the ninth sworn officer indicted in the Gun Trace Task Force investigation.
Snell’s sentencing is far from the only unfinished business in the Baltimore police scandal.
With no public accounting yet offered by Baltimore police or City Hall, a state commission has been exploring how deep the rot might actually go. Among other things, the fact-finding panel led by a retired U.S. judge is tasked with examining how the group of rogue Baltimore officers was allowed to run rampant for years in the city before being brought down by federal investigators.
‘Feeling cute, might just gas some inmates today’: Corrections officers face backlash over social media challenge
This is no joke, and should be condemned. Too many corrections officers are just mean spirited little people in a uniform, who get a kick out of abusing inmates! READ How to avoid the deaths of prison guards and inmates
Excerpts from the Article:
The photos seem innocuous. Several people posed in front of mirrors. Others snapped selfies in cars. They made funny faces, mean-mugged or just smiled. Some even added fun filters — tiny, floating pink hearts and golden butterflies.
But the captions accompanying the pictures, which appear to be of uniformed corrections officers from various states, were another story. “Feeling cute, might just gas some inmates today, IDK,” one post read, according to the Houston Chronicle. The rest of the posts continued in a similar vein.
“Feeling cute, might shoot your baby daddy today . . . idk.”
“Feeling cute, might take your homeboy to the hole later.”
“Feeling cute, I’m still going to lock you down.”
What were intended as spinoffs of the viral #FeelingCuteChallenge have since sparked outrage this week as many argued the posts made light of serious issues surrounding the treatment of inmates. At least four state corrections departments have launched investigations into employees accused of taking part in the challenge.
As with many social media trends, the origins of the challenge are murky, but participation is fairly straightforward. All people have to do is share a photo of themselves at their jobs or in their work uniforms along with text that begins with “Feeling cute,” or some version of the phrase, followed by a joke about their line of work. The challenge is a variation of the “Feeling cute, might delete later” meme.
The “Feeling cute” hashtag began picking up steam several weeks ago on social media as teachers, postal workers, first responders, firefighters and law enforcement officers, among many others, shared versions of the meme.
Some took offense to posts from police officers joking about arresting people or pulling drivers “over for tint.” A now-viral post from a Georgia water employee who said he “Might cut your water off later” also drew criticism, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported last week.
The trend soon caught on with correctional officers, many of whom shared their images in a now private Facebook group called “Correctional Officer Life,” the Chronicle reported. The group has about 30,000 members and describes itself as a place to “discuss, share, socialize and study experiences in officers’ life from all over the world.”
America’s Police Problem, a website dedicated to law enforcement accountability, gathered nearly 40 different posts from the Facebook group and published them on Sunday, accusing the officers of taking the challenge to a “New Dangerous Level.”
Captions ranged from jokes about using Tasers or other force on inmates to planting drugs on them or putting them into “the box,” a reference to a type of solitary confinement. The people behind the posts were identified by the website as officers from several states, including Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Missouri. The Chronicle matched the names of two people who posted memes that referenced gassing inmates to current Texas prison employees.
“A handful of correctional officers employed by this agency are under investigation for on- and off-duty conduct violations as a result of the alleged posting of inappropriate photographs on social media,” said Jeremy Desel, a spokesperson from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He added: “These officers in no way represent the thousands of TDCJ employees who go to work every day taking public safety seriously in all ways. If any of these allegations prove correct then swift disciplinary action as severe as termination of involved employees will occur.”
Prison employees in Oklahoma who participated in the posts have been reprimanded, said Matthew Elliott, a spokesperson for the state’s department of corrections. Elliott added that an investigation is ongoing and may result in “additional action” being taken.
“Beyond the extremely poor judgment shown by these officers, being flippant about mistreating inmates, even if it’s intended as a joke, puts these staff and their fellow officers at risk,” he said. “This is no laughing matter.”
In Missouri, after a Jefferson City corrections officer’s post about “taking your homeboy to the hole” raised concerns, prison officials said Tuesday they were also investigating, KOMU reported.
“All department of corrections employees are trained in the prevention and reporting of harassment, discrimination and unprofessional conduct and are expected to help ensure that interactions with offenders and fellow employees are professional and respectful,” Karen Pojmann, communications director for the Missouri Department of Corrections, told the news station.
Recent investigations into prisons nationwide have revealed accounts of abuse. Last February, three Milwaukee County Jail employees faced felony charges after a mentally ill inmate was allegedly denied water for a week as punishment and died of dehydration, The Washington Post reported. In May 2018, three officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn were charged with sexually assaulting at least six female inmates, according to the New York Times.
‘Sad day for our city’: Former Baltimore Police chief De Sousa sentenced to federal prison for tax fraud
Only a dirty prosecutor is worse than a dirty cop. Whether planting evidence at a crime scene, or cheating on taxes, we should tolerate NO dirty cops.
Excerpts from the Article:
Saying she wanted to deter other tax-cheating cops, U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake sentenced former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa on Friday to 10 months in federal prison for tax fraud.
De Sousa had pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to file federal tax returns. He also admitted to deliberately claiming tax deductions for a house he didn’t own, a business he didn’t run and job expenses he didn’t incur. “This is a sad day for you. It’s also a sad day for our city,” Blake told him. “This city needs a police force it can trust.”
In addition, she handed down 100 hours of community service and one year of supervised release. De Sousa, 54, is expected to report to prison within six weeks.
His prison term marks the downfall of a man once trusted to answer Baltimore’s persistent street violence and scandal in the police ranks. Mayor Catherine Pugh appointed him the city’s top cop in January 2018; he resigned amid the tax charges four months later.
The case left city leaders answering questions about how carefully they vetted De Sousa before promoting him to Baltimore’s 40th police commissioner. He had served 30 years with the department and earned an annual salary of $210,000 when he stepped down. De Sousa stands to collect his routine pension, but that amount was not immediately known.
De Sousa defrauded the state and federal government of $67,587. He has since cashed in his retirement savings and paid all the money back, his attorney told the court.
Simply put, your honor, Darryl De Sousa is a tax cheat. This was not a simple mistake. This was not a misfiled form.
Women who accused Contra Costa deputy of rape settle for $80,000 County releases documents naming alleged victims
I get enough complaints about this stuff to know that for every one of these incidents of rape by police where the cop is held accountable, at least 100 are not reported or nobody acts on the report. Credit is due here to authorities for charging the dirty cop.
Follow this and pray the cop is convicted and given prison time.
Excerpts from the Article:
Two women who last year accused a Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy of using threats to rape them while they were being held in the Richmond jail each settled for $40,000, according to county records released Monday. The women, who this newspaper are not naming, were both awaiting trial in the West Contra Costa Detention Facility in March 2018, when they alleged they were sexually assaulted by then-Deputy Patrick Morseman, 29, a resident of Vallejo at the time. After a police investigation, Morseman was charged with four counts of unlawful sex with an incarcerated person, but not rape, court records show.
Morseman was fired and arrested after the allegations surfaced.
After Morseman’s arrest, the women acquired attorneys at civil firm based in Los Angeles called West Coast Trial Lawyers. They were expected to file a federal lawsuit against Morseman and Contra Costa County, but the legal claims settled last November, without a suit having been filed. Contra Costa County released records detailing the settlement on Monday, in response to a records request by this news organization.
The records released by the county were supposed to be redacted, but were sent to a reporter with the names of the women listed. This newspaper, though, has a policy against naming alleged victims of sexual assault or domestic violence without their explicit consent. One of the women, known as “Jane Doe 1” in court records, recently caused a hiccup in the criminal case against Morseman when she failed to obey a subpoena and show up to court to testify against him. Last week, a judge issued a bench warrant for the woman.
Last year, the women alleged Morseman approached them in a jail cell and threatened to give them a write-up if they didn’t perform various sex acts on him.
Morseman was initially investigated on suspicion of raping the women under color of authority, but police say they later acquired evidence — details of which have not been made public — that showed Morseman committed what the penal code defines as “unlawful, consensual sex.” He pleaded not guilty and remains out of jail on bail. A preliminary hearing in his case is set for April.
Whatever you are doing to help others, to lift the spirits of another person ….
God Bless your Day and …
If you know an inmate, send him or her a letter; I remember so well what a joy it was to get any outside contact!
As is so often the case, to find the problem, follow the money.
Washington D C and seven states have realized the gross injustice in these asset forfeiture laws and have greatly improved them. Since 2014, more than 29 states have enacted laws limiting asset forfeiture or making the civil asset forfeiture process more transparent. Most states continue to review them or have legislation pending. Why? Because as the “war on drugs” got ramped up these laws became wildly unfair.
In 2014, cops seized more assets than were lost in all the nation’s burglaries! Plenty of it was taken from innocent people. It is long past time for Texas to change its laws in this area.
Excerpts from the Article:
Texas used civil and criminal asset forfeiture to obtain more than $50 million in cash and property in 2017, according to the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Everything from cash and cars to clothing, art, and other property were seized and sold.
Prosecutors and police claim that asset forfeiture is a crucial tool to fight against drug cartels and other crime, but many politicians call the process “un-American,” a violation of our civil liberties and a form of “policing for profit.” While the Texas Legislature is expected to take up the issue, advocates fear “lots of bills that gain no traction.”
The U.S. Department of Justice’s asset forfeiture fund reached $93.7 million in 1986. With the sudden surge of seized assets thereafter, that fund quickly surpassed $4.5 billion.
In the state of Texas, opponents of the process quoted the many abuses that the state has been complicit in over the past couple of decades. They cited trips to Hawaii purchased from asset forfeiture funds, margarita machines, and bonuses paid on top of salaries. The city of Tenaha in east Texas was sued by the ACLU for “shaking down” drivers for cash on Highway 59. They claimed that this procedure allowed Tenaha to profit $3 million from 2006-08.
Reforms in 2011 “required agencies that seize citizens’ property to disclose how they spend money they get through seizures — but they don’t have to list what they seized in each case, what offense prompted the seizure and whether they filed a criminal charge or obtained a conviction against the property’s owner,” according to The Texas Tribune.
Bills filed in Texas’ biennial Legislature, which concludes May 27, 2019, range from more disclosure on how and when asset forfeiture is used, placing more onus on the state to prove the asset was involved in a crime, to the complete abolition of civil asset forfeiture. But with resistance from police agencies, advocates fear these bills will never make it to the floor for debate.
Said Terry Canales, chairman of the House Subcommittee, “The natural enemy of any sort of civil asset forfeiture reform is going to be law enforcement itself because of the amount of money they receive. It’s almost like we’ve turned to the dark side.”
Our Founding Fathers might be aghast. One of the grievances cited in the Declaration of Independence was Britain’s abuse of its “writs of assistance,” which arbitrarily seized property and money from individuals without the need for due process. Although the procedure was adopted by the newly formed United States, historians believe it was not abused until the time of Prohibition and the seizing of vehicles running alcohol. A new era of forfeiture abuse began with Reagan’s War on Drugs.
There is one movie which my son and I watched 4 or 5 times when he was little; he liked it so much. It was a sci-fi movie starring Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver in a space adventure where aliens from another planet [the Thermians, led by Mathesar] had seen the T V show broadcast from earth [Galaxy Quest] and they thought the actors – the show – were real. So when the “evil villain” [General Sarris] threatened their civilization, they brought Tim Allen and his team through space to help them fight the evil forces.
Baxter was 10, and he just loved that movie! Here is the link to it on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_Quest
Yes, it was a goofy-ass movie, but I loved the line repeated throughout by the leader of the “good guys”, Mathesar: “Never give up, never surrender!” That was “the moral of the story”, and it is the attitude one must have when fighting real life injustice.
As you know, my theme song is Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUTXb-ga1fo