The last word on civil asset forfeiture is the Post’s four part report, starting here. Be sure to read all four parts. This guy will be getting a Pulitzer. It is six parts, if you count the two follow up stories. If you don’t have time to read it all, a short video is here.
There is not, as you may have heard, an official warning for Canadian tourists, although there was this scathing editorial on CBC news. Since CBC is government funded, you could argue that it’s official. Canadian journos are so erudite. They call the program “Kafkaesque.”
There have been 61,998 cash seizures made on highways and elsewhere since 9/11 without search warrants or indictments … totaling more than $2.5 billion
And indeed it is. If you refuse a friendly request to search your car, then you’re “suspicious.” In any case, your car gets searched. The police then help themselves to your cash and anything else that seems valuable – er, suspicious. You need never be charged with a crime. The cops just take your stuff. Here are highlights from CBC:
- The businessman from Georgia who was relieved of $75,000 he’d raised from relatives to buy a restaurant in Louisiana.
- The church leaders who were carrying nearly $30,000 from their Baltimore parishioners to carry out church activities in North Carolina and El Salvador.
- The young college grad with no criminal record on his way to a job interview out West who was relieved of $2,500 lent to him by his dad for the trip.
As the editorial says, you might expect this from dirty cops in, say, Tijuana – but America? There is, unbelievably, a legal framework for this, plus training programs and online forums. “Equitable sharing” means the seizures are deemed federal – harder to sue than the local sheriff – and they split the money.
It’s easy to see why the DOJ and local police like the program. Budgets are strained to pay salary, benefits, and retirement for public sector employees. See Detroit, Stockton, Rhode Island, and San Bernardino, to name a few. You can expect this budget challenge to gather pace across the country. Some places have cut police services, like responding to 911 calls.
Civil asset forfeiture allows the police to fund themselves, by robbing passing motorists. Some police forces even plan such takings in their annual budget. Instead of facing up to the budget challenges, we simply empower the police to “live off the land,” or as Deputy Ron Hain put it, “turning our police forces into present day Robin Hoods.”
Turning our police forces into present day Robin Hoods
We have been following Barton Hinkle and Radley Balko on police militarization. Hinkle compares the police to a conquering army, and this completes the paradigm. Sun Tzu (and other generals) said that the army should be able to support itself by pillaging the conquered territory.
See also: The Praetorian Guard