Bureaucrats Ramp Up Policing Activity to Raise Cash

By Lee Bellinger / December 26, 2013

Bureaucrats Ramp Up Policing Activity to Raise Cash
Police shields The days of traditional, locally controlled law enforcement are rapidly disappearing into history. Today’s federally equipped and empowered police departments seem to be breeding officers who are more inclined to overreach. All communities, including the police, have always had bad actors. But this seems to becoming more common with the advent of new technologies and cash-strapped local governments.
These days, it is important to remain aware of tactics used by law enforcement to erode your civil rights.
Police the nation over are seizing phones, cameras, and other video recording equipment and booking the owner with unfounded charges such as “interference” or “disorderly conduct” for recording police activity. Even though the courts have consistently ruled otherwise. Too often they get away with this practice by claiming that property confiscated is a weapon. But it didn’t stop there, when a San Diego police officer slapped a phone out of a man’s hands and arrested him for smoking a cigarette on a beach boardwalk. Another issue scantly written about: Officers turning their squad car video cameras off. In New Jersey, an officer was reprimanded for this same offense with unpaid leave for only a month. He still works there today.

Often police departments make a chunk of their money from Civil Forfeiture Laws. Under state and federal asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement can confiscate property suspected to be involved in criminal activity. What’s worse, the property owner doesn’t need to be charged in most cases to lose cash, a car, their home, or other property. A report by the Institute for Justice highlighted that legal practices “make civil forfeiture easy for most governments, and difficult for many property owners to fight.”

What drives Forfeiture Laws is “equitable sharing,” which allows state and local law enforcement to send forfeiture prosecutions to the federal government and then receive up to 80% back in profit, usually even when the state bans profit incentives. What’s more, federal payout has more than doubled from 2000 to 2010 to over $500 million. When state and local laws make civil forfeiture harder and cause jurisdictions to rake in less money, officers engage in more “equitable sharing” to get around state laws.

Taking Advantage: Fleecing Motorists with New Technology

A new technology that’s a hit with police departments; License Plate Scanners, provide instant feedback on whether a car has been stolen, is uninsured, or unregistered. Use of the technology is exceeding the creation of rules to prevent abuse. Scanners could potentially be used to track individuals, or monitor who visits certain places. A survey of police departments concluded that less than a third even have written policies for the new technology. Add to the list, “eTickets,” an electronic and printable ticketing system. Once installed, electronic tickets will allow cops to ticket a much larger volume of traffic. “It will take it down from 10 or 11 minutes doing it on paper down to 2 minutes, doing it electronically,” said Keith Lohmann of the New Hampshire Department of Safety.

This can add to the number of people wrongly ticketed. And here’s the icing on the cake: taxpayers are forking over about $170,000 per 300 printers installed. Pay close attention to these trends in your local community. Get involved in citizen oversight of law enforcement groups.


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