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LEAP Slams Asset Forfeiture in Rolling Stone

On June 27, 2013, in Drug War, federal, by Eapen Thampy

From Kristen Gwynne’s article “Five Reasons Cops Want to Legalize Marijuana“, some superb quotes from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition speakers Steve Downing and Norm Stamper:

Downing says that monetary incentives for drug arrests, like asset forfeiture and federal grants, encourage an attitude where police will make drug arrests by any means necessary, from militarized SWAT raids to paid informants who admit to lying. “The overall effect is that we are losing ground in terms of the traditional peace officer role of protecting public safety, and morphing our local police officers into federal drug warriors,” Downing says.

Quotas and pressure for officers to make drug arrests – which profit police departments via federal funding and asset forfeiture – also encourage routine violations of the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The NYPD, for example, stops and sometimes frisks well over 500,000 people a year, the vast majority of them youths of color – the basis for a pending federal lawsuit challenging the policy on constitutional grounds. While New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended stop-and-frisk as a way to get guns off the street, in fact, it’s more often used to arrest kids with small amounts of weed. Stamper adds that legalization would allow police officers “to see young adults not as criminals, but members of their community” – and start respecting those young people’s civil liberties.


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