Cops Moan While Civil Liberty Advocates Rejoice
Asset forfeiture, more colloquially known as “policing for profit” and “theft by a cop” is one of the most onerous vestiges of the War on Drugs. Trampling civil liberties, flouting the constitution and being ethically, morally and fundamentally bankrupt, asset forfeiture laws undermine good policing by placing the emphasis on making money rather than protecting the public from dangerous criminals.
Enacted ostentatiously to reduce crime by depriving drug traffickers, racketeers and criminal syndicates of their ill-gotten gains, the program quickly morphed into a gigantic cash cow for police agencies who were allowed to keep the money taken in by asset forfeiture.
What made asset forfeiture so lucrative was that no one had to be convicted of a crime before police could seize their property. More often than not, no charges were ever filed. All cops had to do was claim that they suspected that someone’s property like cars, boats and cash were tied to crime in order for them to keep it.
Like all drug laws, there was a racial component to its enforcement. It should come as no surprise that minorities, immigrants and low-income communities were significantly more likely to fall victim to “theft by cop.” The ACLU reported that over 85 percent of forfeiture payments went to agencies where people of color made up more than half of the local population.
In progressive states like California, legislators realized that this was wrong and passed laws curtailing the ability of police to seize property. Police got around this obstacle by working with federal agencies to enforce loosey-goosey federal asset forfeiture laws thereby not needing state law any longer to seize an innocent person’s assets. Federal law allowed local police agencies to keep up to 80% of assets seized keeping the money spigots open and flowing.
Here is why it great to live in California. Introduced in 2016 and going into effect in 2017, SB 443 made it more onerous for police to make money seizing a person’s assets as the law now required a conviction in most cases before state and local law enforcement agencies could permanently keep anyone’s property.
According to Mica Doctoroff, legislative attorney with the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy, “The goal of SB 443 was simple: to rein in policing for profit in California and reestablish some of the most basic tenants of constitutional law and values. In particular, the bipartisan-backed law was designed to prevent California law enforcement agencies from circumventing state law in order to use the federal civil asset forfeiture process to profit off the backs of property owners who have not been convicted of an underlying crime.”
While the federal government continues to police for profit and cheer lead the failed war on drugs, through SB 443 California has said enough is enough and we are not going to allow policing for profit in our state.
The police were totally opposed to SB 443 and now it is easy to see why. The amount of money California police agencies have lost because they cannot keep innocent people’s assets any longer is staggering.
LA IMPACT —compared to what they took in during 2015, the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force lost $3.2 million. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department lost $1.6 million.
In the Inland Empire, San Bernardino police agencies went from $2.9 million in 2015 to $258,996 in 2018 while Riverside agencies went from $2.1 million to $1.2 million. Santa Ana and Anaheim police departments lost $2.5 million.
Police are bemoaning the loss of all this money claiming it will put public safety in jeopardy. Of course if police are paying more attention to crimes in which there are real victims instead of spending time going after victimless crimes where they can make more money, our communities will be safer and our constitutional rights and liberties will be respected.
NURSE NAVIGATOR TO SPEAK ON CANNABIS NURSING CONVENTION
Palm Springs and Joshua Tree MAPP Meetings on Saturday, May 4
Ruth Hill, RN, a cannabis nurse navigator specialist, will report on the 2019 Cannabis Nurse Network conference with the latest information on cannabis research, cannabis magazines published by women, new laws being considered by the California legislature and innovative developments in cannabis nurse/patient consultation programs.
The Cannabis Nurse Network is a global network of registered nurses who include Endocannabinoid System health, and implement cannabinoid therapeutics in support of a patient’s journey to holistic balance. The organization sponsors an annual professional development and education conference designed exclusively for cannabis nurses & licensed medical professionals to advance their understanding of cannabis medicine, the endocannabinoid system and its practical application in day-to-day patient care & practice.
In addition to discussing these important issues, RN Hill will provide handouts on many of the conference’s programs.
Ruth Hill brings over 50 years in nursing from a multitude of settings including hospice and palliative care. She is a member of the Hospice and Palliative Nursing Association, the Oncology Nursing Society and the American Cannabis Nurses Association. Ruth joined Holistic Caring two years ago, a consulting organization that focuses on educating clients on the safe use of medical cannabis.
Cookies, milk and punch will be served plus win a genuine silicon pipe at each meeting.
The Palm Springs/Coachella Valley MAPP meeting Saturday, May 4 at 12 noon takes place at Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon, downtown Palm Springs CA 92262
The Joshua Tree/Yucca Valley MAPP meeting Saturday, May 4 at 3 p.m. takes place at the Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree CA 92252.
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