Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear. They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.
The details are contained in thousands of annual reports submitted by local and state agencies to the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, an initiative that allows local and state police to keep up to 80 percent of the assets they seize. The Washington Post obtained 43,000 of the reports dating from 2008 through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The documents offer a sweeping look at how police departments and drug task forces across the country are benefiting from laws that allow them to take cash and property without proving a crime has occurred. The law was meant to decimate drug organizations, but The Post found that it has been used as a routine source of funding for law enforcement at every level.
“In tight budget periods, and even in times of budget surpluses, using asset forfeiture dollars to purchase equipment and training to stay current with the ever-changing trends in crime fighting helps serve and protect the citizens,” said Prince George’s County, Md., police spokeswoman Julie Parker.
Brad Cates, a former director of asset forfeiture programs at the Justice Department, said the spending identified by The Post suggests police are using Equitable Sharing as “a free floating slush fund.” Cates, who oversaw the program while at Justice from 1985 to 1989, said it has enabled police to sidestep the traditional budget process, in which elected leaders create law enforcement spending priorities.
“All of this is fundamentally at odds with the U.S. Constitution,” said Cates, who recently co-wrote an article calling for the program’s abolition on The Post’s editorial page. “All of this is at odds with the rights that Americans have.”
Of the nearly $2.5 billion in spending reported in the forms, 81 percent came from cash and property seizures in which no indictment was filed, according to an analysis by The Post. Owners must prove that their money or property was acquired legally in order to get it back.
List includes dozens of night vision sniper scopes and a million dollar helicopter. (Bernco already had at least on helicopter, as does Albuquerque, in Bernco.) Even small town Los Lunas has a police tank.
BERNALILLO – MINE RESISTANT VEHICLE worth $733,000.00 on 02/13/2014
Let us unite in a class action lawsuit on behalf of all citizens against the US House of “Representatives” for their ongoing failure to do anything useful. If that fails, let’s sue the Republican Party for obstruction of progress.
I look forward to Senate investigations into the Scopes trial and bills requiring prayer in public schools — and hand guns for all! Let the lunatics rule the asylum. That would guarantee impeachment for Obama, which would likely raise his standing with everyone else and assure another Democratic president in 2016. Bring it on, fools.
A new CBS News/New York Times Battleground Tracker estimate finds the Republicans positioned to take the Senate this year, with a likely 51-49 seat edge if the November election were held right now. The margin of error on that current seat estimate, at plus or minus 2 seats, means Democrats still have a real possibility to keep the chamber and that we head into campaign season with control up for grabs — with a closely-divided Senate surely coming in 2015 in either case.
Dana Milbank is spot on in this piece.
In its last day in session, the high court not only affirmed corporate personhood but expanded the human rights of corporations, who by some measures enjoy more protections than mortals …
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the much-anticipated Hobby Lobby decision. “Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control them.”
Alito’s ruling notably did not protect the rights of people employed by Hobby Lobby. They can now be denied contraceptives they were supposed to receive as part of their employee health plan — because the craft chain’s owners object to certain forms of birth control required under Obamacare. … [mjh: What happens if a corporation’s owners object to transfusions or other emergency medical care?]
There was a certain risk in having Alito deliver the 5-to-4 opinion defending corporate personhood, because his mannerisms are strikingly robotic for a human. …
Ginsburg, in her dissent, wrote: “Until this litigation, no decision of this Court recognized a for-profit corporation’s qualification for a religious exemption. .?.?. The exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities. As Chief Justice Marshall observed nearly two centuries ago, a corporation is ‘an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.’?” …
So Alito … reverted to the “Dictionary Act definition of ‘person,’?” which includes corporations. (The Dictionary Act also … says the words “?‘insane person’ shall include every idiot.”) … [zing!]
Alito’s ruling was, Ginsburg said, an “expansive notion of corporate personhood.” She invoked the writing of former justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote that corporations “have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires.” [mjh: Corporations do have a single desire: an insatiable appetite for profit above all else, including the well-being of employees or customers.]
The creatures named above have been accused of a monstrous crime. Regardless of their guilt, they are not “innocent,” they are vile. In their defense, they readily admit that they believe it is fine for a group of men to sexually abuse a clearly intoxicated woman. Moreover, their defense rests on the fact that they think it is fine to record sexual assault. Even if they didn’t drug and rape this woman, they are vile creatures worthy of public humiliation. I hope this episode haunts them and ruins their lives.They should be heckled and spat upon.
Charges against Lobos cornerback SaQuan Edwards were dismissed Thursday, pending further investigation by the UNM Police Department. The charges against Lobos running back Crusoe Gongbay and CNM student Ryan Ruff were dismissed earlier this week. The case could be reopened at any time, depending on the police investigation.
The three men faced rape, kidnapping and conspiracy charges. Edwards and Gongbay were suspended from the UNM football team shortly after the allegations surfaced. It was in Ruff’s BMW where the crimes allegedly took place. All three men say they are innocent. …
According to police reports, Abdullah Saidi was one of two students who drove to a party with the woman. In his deposition he said she informed him that she was on Ecstasy and that he could tell her pupils were dilated. He was the one who introduced her to other students who had gathered for UNM’s “fiestas” celebration in mid-April, according to the deposition that Bleus allowed the Journal to look at.
The other witness, Wendell Carter, said in another deposition that he thought she was intoxicated before she arrived at the dormitory apartment where the students gathered before heading off to a house party.
Another witness said he saw the woman grab Gongbay’s crotch before she got into the BMW, according to the deposition. Gongbay, he said, was shocked.
Saidi, who claimed he also had sex with the woman that night, said he, too, saw her grab the football player. He said he provided the testimony “because, honestly … I feel like she’s not telling the truth.”