Police Are Confiscating Cars for Minor Drug Crimes

Submitted by smorgan on

Taking people's cars against their will is, of course, not a crime when police do it:

A new push by Annapolis police officers to crack down on drugs and violence in the city is having an added benefit: Record vehicle seizures and revenues.

Sgt. Dave Garcia, who oversees the vehicle seizure program, said city police seized 120 vehicles in the first six months of this year, netting $23,960 in the process.

Sgt. Garcia said when the city began its seizure program, officers had discretion on whether to seize a vehicle. About a decade ago, however, the department adopted the zero-tolerance policy.

"We wanted it to be fair for everyone," he said, explaining now it doesn't matter if the officer finds a glass pipe for smoking crack or a kilo of heroin - the city will take your car. [hometownannapolis.com]

It is just amazing what the term "fair for everyone" can mean to a narcotics officer. It disturbs me greatly that police can even say things like that in our newspapers without provoking massive public outcry.

As one might guess, the program serves no crime control function and accomplishes nothing other than funding the process of busting more people and taking more cars:

It is unclear if the seizures actually are deterring anything, though. The city seized about 170 vehicles a year for the past three years, only to see record numbers of murders and robberies.

"Is the message getting across the way we like? Probably not," Sgt. Garcia said. But he noted police rarely seize the same car twice, and the money the city makes on the seizures helps buy new surveillance equipment, computers and unmarked cars for the city Police Department. All of the seizure money goes to a special fund maintained by the department.

"They are helping us fund our war against drugs," he said.
The article goes on to describe how citizens may purchase their cars back for hundreds of dollars, but only if they agree not to contest the seizure. In other words, if you're innocent, you have to risk losing your car entirely in order to challenge your false arrest and the confiscation of your vehicle.

Once again, we find the soldiers in our war on drugs engaged in behavior that would be a serious crime if anyone else did it. This is just pure extortion carried out against a large group of people who haven’t yet been convicted of any crime. Police then parade around exclaiming that they are helping people solve their drug problems, as though taking people's property and selling it back to them is some form of drug treatment. It's not.

If these are the sorts of ideas we're coming up with for addressing our nation's drug problem, it's time to include more people in the discussion.

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Source URL: https://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy/2008/aug/05/police_are_confiscating_cars_min