Lawmakers in Washington, DC discuss ‘policing for profit’

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WASHINTON, DC (NEXSTAR DC BUREAU) – Lawmakers in Washington, DC are discussing “policing for profit.”

People Against Police Powers got the Supreme Court to agree that the constitution limits the ability of police to take and keep cash, cars and other property from convicted criminals.

However, News13 Washington correspondent Anna Weirnicki reported that this worries some, who think it takes away money to help fight crime.

Jason Pye, with “Freedom Works,” said it happens all the time—someone is charged with a crime and police confiscate cash, cars, houses, any property they believe was used in the crime.

“We call it policing for profit, where law enforcement can go and take people’s stuff,” Pye said.

Pye said police sell the items and keep the money for the police department budget.

“And, that’s a huge problem because forfeiture is theft for all intents and purposes,” Pye also said.

Recently, the supreme court unanimously ruled that the constitution limits the ability of states and local police to take and keep private property from convicted criminals, particularly when it is used to enrich police departments.

“This is like a slush fund for police and sheriff’s departments,” said David Smith, a civil asset forfeiture lawyer.

Smith said he sees more cases when local law enforcement agencies are on a tight budget.

“They basically have been told, make up for it by bringing more forfeiture cases,” Smith also said.

Smith said he’s pleased with the ruling, but he thinks the court missed an opportunity to address where the legally seized money goes.

“They can use if for pretty much whatever they want and there is almost no accountability,” Smith added.

Law enforcement agencies say civil asset forfeiture is crucial.

The National Sheriff’s Association said “…this process not only brings life-saving equipment and resources to law enforcement but also saves the American taxpayer money in the process.”

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