DPA Report Finds Policing for Profit Gone Wild


Civil Asset Forfeiture is a troubling reality for many Americans. A recent DPA report has shed light on not only how prevalent asset forfeiture is but also how reliant police forces around the country have now become on these funds.  Police claim that the tactics used- which operate at both federal level and state level- are vital in disrupting criminal activity before it starts.

Whether you earned your funds working 9-5 or on a no deposit mobile bingo, they could be used to line the coffers of law enforcement agencies. The logic being that by seizing any assets which are believed to be a result of or embroiled in criminal workings, the police can either stop a potential crime altogether or gather vital evidence to shut it down.

The end goal is desirable, however the problems lie in that police can search and confiscate assets without ever charging the individual. Therefore the funding currently being used is often at the expense of innocent people who simply do not have the legal aid or funding to wade through the time consuming and costly process of retrieving their goods.

In the wake of many scandals surrounding the treatment of citizens the public is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with law enforcement. The poor protection of citizens against these unlawful seizures is yet another way in which the police service are losing face in the eyes of those they have vowed to  protect and serve.

According to the Institute for Justice, the Justice Department have used civil forfeiture in order to claim a fortune of around $1.5 billion per year. In order to refute a claim, a person must prove that the money taken is in no way connected to criminal activity.
script async src=”//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js”>

Therefore, a person must prove their own innocence. This contrasts starkly with the parameters used by law enforcement to confiscate assets in the first place. An officer has to have suspicion that the money is used in a crime. They prove the criminal connection to the asset not the person involved. This makes it easy to seize cash on the barest suspicion.  In an age where civil unrest with the police force due to publicised acts of violence is at an all-time high- public suspicion over their motives is rife.

In some states, the call for reform has been heard. California have introduced Senate Bill 443 which will fix many of the least savoury practices detailed in the report. The strongest measures against the seizures have been implemented in New Mexico by Governor Susana Martinez. The bill which was spurred on by the DPA gives the citizens of New Mexico now gives the most ardent protection against wrongful seizures in the country.

Most civilians will agree that law enforcement agencies ought to be adequately funded. In addition to ensuring public safety, the officers who risk their lives every day in order to protect society should be recompensed for their duty. The problem lies in the methods. Surely there are better means than seizing the assets of innocent residents. Proper levels of funding must be found by other methods in order to begin to build better relationships between law enforcement agencies and those they aim to protect.