Newsbrief: Tampa Police Enjoying Seized Cars 8/8/03

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


According to a Tuesday story in the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, police officials in nearby Tampa are using vehicles seized from alleged criminals for their own personal use. Tampa Police Chief Bennie Holder, setting the standard for his force, was spotted tooling around in a black 2001 Lincoln Navigator, complete with DVD player and video screen, worth $35,000. He later upgraded to a 2001 Chevy Tahoe worth $38,000.

Other Tampa police are following the chief's lead. Tampa police are using at least 43 vehicles seized under Florida's Contraband Forfeiture Act, which allows police to confiscate property used during the commission of a felony or bought with the proceeds from crime. A Tampa police major is driving a 1998 Lincoln Navigator valued at $35,000, while a sergeant drives a 1999 Ford Expedition valued at $34,000. The forfeiture fleet includes five Navigators, two Expeditions, a BMW, and a Lexus, the Times reported.

Naturally, Tampa police defended the practice. "We believe it makes good fiscal sense," Chief Holder said in a press release. "We're saving taxpayer dollars. We're taking cars from criminals and using them for legitimate law enforcement purposes." Holder did not explain precisely what "legitimate law enforcement purpose" was served by his being able to cruise in a high-dollar dope wagon.

Depite Holder's protestations, the practice is viewed uneasily by criminal justice ethicists and even other police departments. St. Petersburg police said they used only department-purchased vehicles. "The brass doesn't get to pick and choose from seized cars," said a department spokesman.

"It may not be the best idea. There's a perception problem there," said Leonard Territo, a retired University of South Florida criminology professor. "It's not good PR for the police chief to be driving around in a top-of-the-line expensive car. As any type of public official, you have to be careful. Public perception is very important."

Yes. We wouldn't want the public to get the impression that law enforcement somehow profits from seizing people's property.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #299, 8/8/03 Note to Readers: Issue #300 and Name Change Coming Up, New Format | Bolivia's Morales Seeks Honest Enforcement Against Traffickers, Not Repression | Marinol Death Sentence: Oregon Man Denied Liver Transplant Because of Prescription -- He's Not the Only One | The Drug War's Daily Grind: One Month in One Police District in Washington, DC | August is Drug Reform Lobbying Month at Home! | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | Newsbrief: Justice Department Orders Government Lawyers to Appeal "Soft" Sentences, Report on Judges Who Issue Them | Newsbrief: Tulia Pardon Decision in Governor's Hands | Newsbrief: COMBAT Anti-Drug Tax Passes in Kansas City | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Tampa Police Enjoying Seized Cars | Newsbrief: Doctrinaire Drug Warrior Confirmed as DEA Head | Newsbrief: Kentucky Teacher Fired for Promoting Hemp Wins Settlement | Newsbrief: Argentina Leads Latin America in Jailed Drug Offenders | Newsbrief: Marijuana Reform Stalled in New Zealand | The Reformer's Calendar

This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]