Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Forfeiture funded Texas task force?

Scott's back from his trip and has the story on lies about task force legislation. Apparently Northeast Texas Narcotics Task Force's finest are telling the public the new law was going to take away their forfeiture gravy train anyway (not true), so they're going to dissolve themselves and regroup as a fully forfeiture funded cop squad.
Henderson and Rusk County will use its share – about $465,000 – to operate the new task force.

That money will last about a year-and-a-half, but Flanagan said the new task force should be making more traffic stops and seizing more money in the meantime.

He said the sheriff's office plans to make a request from the commissioners that they put the two task force officers on the county payroll for the 2005-06 budget.

"Then we can use the seized money to operate the task force," Flanagan said.
Scott replies.
I don't get how you do that without violating federal rules that asset forfeiture money "increase but not replace" agency budgets -- i.e., the forfeiture money shouldn't be able to be used to replace local tax dollars or Byrne grant money. They can only "supplement" local budgets with extras. It's unethical for agencies to perennially finance their whole budgets from asset forfeiture -- there's too much incentive for committing an injustice when assets are seized by agencies whose budgetary existence depends on the seizure. But that's what's being contemplated in East Texas.

Read the rest for the gory details. Scott also blogs on how they obtain the assets in the first place. The good old fashioned way - they bust a bunch of small time consumers.
Dusty Flanagan, the chief deputy at the Rusk County Sheriff's Office, said DPS wants to implement a narcotics strategy that focuses only on large drug dealers.

"What we have in our community is smaller drug dealers. (The DPS system) is not going to benefit us. We need to go after the small drug dealers and get them in jail," Flanagan told the Rusk County Commissioners Court.
And they don't want a lot of DPS brass looking over their shoulder while they confiscate cars and property for nickel and dime busts. It adds up I guess. They made almost a million dollars in the last fiscal round on this legalized highway robbery. Meanwhile our court system is clogged with non-violent drug offenders and their property, which is tried seperately by the way. Gets its own case name and everything.

It's inane and insane. Forfeiture laws have got to go.


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