Here's an article in the Detroit News (Part 1) that investigates how police departments in the metro Detroit area use property seizures to cover their costs and line their pockets. Generally, the victims are poor people with few resources and no power to fight the system. And the thieves aren't shy about bragging that the courts have long supported their endeavors. From the article:
"Local law enforcement agencies are raising millions of dollars by seizing private property suspected in crimes, but often without charges being filed — and sometimes even when authorities admit no offense was committed.
The money raised by confiscating goods in Metro Detroit soared more than 50 percent to at least $20.62 million from 2003 to 2007, according to a Detroit News analysis of records from 58 law enforcement agencies. In some communities, amounts raised went from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands — and, in one case, into the millions.
Here are a few worthwhile quotes from the story, straight from the lips of the plunderers:
- "Police departments right now are looking for ways to generate revenue, and forfeiture is a way to offset the costs of doing business," said Sgt. Dave Schreiner, who runs Canton Township's forfeiture unit, which raised $343,699 in 2008. "You'll find that departments are doing more forfeitures than they used to because they've got to — they're running out of money and they've got to find it somewhere."
- "Forfeitures are a way to help supplement your budgetary issues." — Trenton Chief William Lilienthal
- "Revenue was not a primary concern, he said, "but it is nice when we're able to purchase things we need from arrests." — Romulus Police Chief Michael St. Andre
Here is Part 2 of the Detroit News story.