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.
As to how the underlying incentives work, this will refresh your memory:
Civil forfeiture laws permit local and state police to take cash, cars, homes and other property from people suspected of involvement in drug trafficking or other wrongdoing without proving a crime has occurred. Police can make seizures under state or federal laws.
Since 2009, D.C. officers have made more than 12,000 seizures under city and federal laws, according to records and data obtained from the city by The Washington Post through the District’s open records law. Half of the more than $5.5 million in cash seizures were for $141 or less, with more than a thousand for less than $20. D.C. police have seized more than 1,000 cars, some for minor offenses allegedly committed by the children or friends of the vehicle owners, documents show.
When D.C. police seize cash or property under District law, the proceeds go into the city’s general fund. But proceeds of seizures made under federal law go directly to the police department through the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, which allows local departments to join with federal agencies in forfeitures and keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds.
That is all from Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Steve Rich, another installment in their pathbreaking series, scroll down to the bottom of the page for links to the rest.