Asset forfeiture helps police departments around the U.S. to add millions of dollars every year to their budgets, by allowing them to confiscate property from citizens on suspicion alone. Through this process, they are able to earn the funds needed to buy a number of tools, vehicles, services, and more. It's no wonder that many officers wouldn't be very eager to do away with this legislation or that they'd be opposed to any increase in oversight.
Why Would They Want Less Funding?
Recently, Colorado sought to do just that, introduce further oversight of police who do take any citizen's property via asset forfeiture. Well, the police in Colorado weren't happy about it, allegedly displaying intense resistance, and they successfully defeated the oversight proposal.
The new proposal was looking to add new reporting requirements with regard to how much money the police departments take from citizens via asset forfeiture. And it was also looking to prevent the police from giving property to the federal government unless that property was worth more than $50,000. Sponsors of the bill claim that Colorado has inadequate oversight at the moment and ineffective safeguards to protect the public from abuse; officers using asset forfeiture unjustly as they have many times in the past.
When citizens are targeted under asset forfeiture it it often isn't a criminal charge, it's instead a civil one, where the property itself is targeted. So the victim isn't afforded the same protections under that process that they would be under a criminal matter, and therefore not many people are able to seek any remedy and battle the matter in court. Some people do take it to court though and through that they've been successful in getting some of their property back from the state. This is a practice which too easily enables a financial incentive for policing, giving room to breed corruption; making it unsafe for the people.
Those who introduced the bill aren't against forfeiture entirely, in fact they say it's a “legitimate government function,” but they did see reason and concern to press for further oversight on the matter. It's clear that not only Colorado, but many areas around the U.S. are in desperate need of an overhaul of this controversial and unconstitutional legislation.
The bill in Colorado failed after a number of officers testified against it.
It helps them buy their toys after all, of course they are going to see need in it; no matter the collateral damage. The officers claimed that they didn't use the forfeiture method to carelessly seize people's property, but anyone who looks into the history of asset forfeiture in the states will see that this has been the case in many circumstances. And it's no wonder that there is a growing cry from civil liberties groups and others in the public, to do away with this unjust legislation.