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Police Are Confiscating Cars for Minor Drug Crimes

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. []

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.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Blatantly Criminal

I wonder if this has ever been appealed to the higher courts. I can't see how this could possibly upheld as Constitutional.

Seizing auto

New Jersey is one of the toughest states and seizing cars from criminals such as theft and fraud rings to drug dealers. If a vehicle is used in the commission of a crime, the police department may apply to the New Jersey superior court for forfeiture. In case where vehicles owned by banks or the amount owed is higher then what the car is worth, departments may not seize the vehicle due to the expense.


question: why aren't these confiscating cops being shot?


Because minor drug offenders aren't violent. What are you gonna do, go raid the police station Terminator-style? Give us a break.

This is unconstitutional and

This is unconstitutional and those officers who propogate this nonsense are in fact acting in a criminal manner.

sickandtired's picture

Titusville, Florida Police Chief uses "Siezed" Funds

Our police chief used siezed funds to attend a three week class at Harvard university, all expenses paid. Hotel, Air fare, Meals, incidentals, etc.
I have been told the amount of the expenditure was $75,000.00
I was told by the Police Department that this money could only be used for "Executive Training".
The Class was Leadership, Policy Making, and Interaction with the Public.
Shouldn't he be an expert in these areas already?
I was told by the local Newspaper that he was justified in using this money and apparently he has them in his pocket. How can I find out what "siezed" monies can be used for because I believe the money could have trained a whole Department, bought more equiptment, sponsered youth programs, etc. I feel this was a misuse of the funds.
Are there Florida Statutes that govern munipalities in the use of these funds? I would appreciate any assistance you could provide.

asset seizure

Go to this url at DownsizeDC and send an email letter to your so-called "representatives" in congress on this issue, specifically,
and keep sending them emails once a month, once a week, even daily -- until they capitualte and repeal this unfair, unamerican, illegal, and unconstitutional drug war.

Legallized Thievery

My sons vehicle was seized of a minor posession of pot. Not excusing his behavior, however taking a vehicle worth $27,000 besides the legal ramifications is not right. Our court date is in a couple of weeks. If they actually take his vehicle for this offense. I assure them that I will fight it with every legal avenue available to me. Also, I encourage people to stop contributing to these police associations. I have done that for now.

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