This is just appalling:
D.C. police have made plans for millions of dollars in anticipated proceeds from future civil seizures of cash and property, even though federal guidelines say “agencies may not commit” to such spending in advance, documents show.
The city’s proposed budget and financial plan for fiscal 2015 includes about $2.7 million for the District police department’s “special purpose fund” through 2018. The fund covers payments for informants and rewards.
The financial details emerged Wednesday, when the D.C. Council’s judiciary committee unanimously voted to forward a bill that would overhaul asset forfeiture laws in the nation’s capital. The bill would raise the threshold of proof required for a forfeiture, bolster the rights of individuals whose property has been taken and require that proceeds from seizures under federal law go into the city general fund, rather than directly to the police department. The full council is set to vote on the bill Tuesday.
Council member Tommy Wells, chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, said police should not have a financial incentive to make seizures. He said the bill addresses problems that are common across the country.
“All across the nation, law enforcement agencies are directly benefiting from forfeiture,” said Wells (D-Ward 6), who is leading the effort to reform asset forfeiture in the District. “In those places, forfeiture proceeds go directly to the law enforcement entity, creating at best the appearance of a conflict of interest, and at worst, an unchecked incentive for slush funds.”
Prior posts on civil asset forfeiture here. And just in case you think that this kind of behavior is out of the ordinary . . .
Ferguson, Missouri, which is recovering from riots following the August shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman, plans to close a budget gap by boosting revenue from public-safety fines and tapping reserves.
The strategy by the St. Louis suburb, which suffered a second round of violent protests last month after a grand jury refused to indict the police officer, may risk worsening community relations with increased citations and weakening its credit standing by reducing a rainy-day fund.
To close a projected deficit for fiscal 2014, which ended June 30, the municipality will deplete a $10 million capital-projects reserve, Jeffrey Blume, Ferguson’s finance director, said in a telephone interview. For the current year, the city is budgeting for higher receipts from police-issued tickets.
So in order to cover a revenue shortfall, more people will be ticketed by the police. The Ferguson police–and any number of other police organizations around the country–are not into penalizing and punishing people for doing bad things. They are into penalizing and punishing people in order to raise money for municipal governments–and for police departments that (allegedly) serve those governments and the people they represent.
I guess the Onion can officially go out of business.