American Police Departments are addicted to drug money. Civil forfeiture laws have created a perverse incentive system wherein police departments are given profit motive to completely disregard civil rights in the name of the almighty dollar. Under many civil asset forfeiture laws around the country, police can take people’s money and property without proving anyone guilty, or indeed without even making an arrest. The police just have to suspect the assets are tied in some way to illicit activity. The most common example of the practice is known holistically as “churning”.
Federal and state officers are tapping into an increasingly lucrative tactic called “churning” or “policing for profits.” This is how it often works:
Officers stop cars on a pretext such as not using a turn signal and then ask a series of questions about drugs or contraband in the car. If the driver does not consent to a search, officers will sometime declare that the driver is acting suspiciously and call in a drug dog or search the passenger for their own personal safety. Any drugs found can then be used to seize the car and any money inside of it. The result is that police are mining our highways for jackpot stops.
As a strong advocate for civil rights, there is little that concerns me more than this practice. Like privatization of prisons, when a profit motive is tied to the deprivation of one’s rights, a perverse and backwards incentive scheme is created. If you agree that this practice is wholly unacceptable, tell The Department of Justice to stop giving Police reason to disregard your constitutional rights in the name of the bottom line.
Dennis E. Sawan is an Ohio Personal Injury and Consumer Protection Attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio. If you would like to speak further about your specific legal matter, call The Law Office of Dennis E. Sawan today at 567-343-5662 to schedule a free consultation.