Monday, October 10, 2005

Politics: I'll take "Irony" for $500, Alex.

While Googling about this morning, I stumbled across this gem from the Washington Post. It takes a certain special blend of naievity and chutzpah to write an article on asset forfeiture, title it "Chasing Down the 'Ill-Gotten Gains'", and not have the "Ill-Gotten" portion of the title referring to, oh, say the massive conflicts of interest inherent in the whole process.

A few years back, asset forfeiture reform legislation came up for a vote in the state of Washington. Washington law enforcement officials were apopleptic in their opposition, pointing out that departments in the state made four million a year off forfeiture, and several agencies depended on that money, viewing it as an "essential part of their budgets during lean times."

They opposed asset forfeiture reform? No kidding? You mean they don't want to have a FOUR MILLION A YEAR cash cow taken away? Imagine that! Next thing you know, you'll be telling me that the trial lawyers association is against 'loser pays' and other tort reforms.

You'll note that in Civil Forfeiture cases, the funds are seized from folks "suspected" of drug crimes. This means "accused", not "convicted". Hope your kid's friend doesn't drop a roach in the back of your S-class Benz on prom night. Could lead to an inconvenient traffic stop for you, and a bunch of new toys for the local PD.

Departments need the money for their budgets during "lean times"? What in the heck does that mean? Look, the people (that's us) want a police department. We tax ourselves to pay for one. That is all the police department we care to pay for. It can't suddenly decide it wants to be bigger and go look for more funds so's it can buy all those cool toys in Guns & Weapons for the King's Men by seizing them from folks who haven't even been convicted in a court of law.

If the Mayberry PD finds out it's short of cash, then it's probably time to sell some of the Night Vision scopes, MP-5's, shiny new panzerkampfwagens, helicopters, and maybe lay off a couple of the officers whose sole policing talent seems to be running a radar gun behind a billboard (every department has one or two of those.) The answer to the funds shortage is not to try to essentially loot some more money by kicking down a few doors in Crackton. This tactic got booed on movie screens when the Sheriff of Nottingham's men tried it, why do we let it continue in present-day America?

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