Michelle Sullo at the New Haven Register has a good article last week on the use of asset forfeiture revenues in Connecticut. The whole story is worth reading, and Sullo concludes by highlighting a fundamental issue with the asset forfeiture system:
Eapen Thampy, executive director of Americans for Forfeiture Reform, based in Missouri, said there are thousands of recipients annually, with very little oversight or auditing to protect against inappropriate purchases like luxury items or trips.
Thampy expressed concern over how much control police have over how the money is spent, without consent from an outside municipal legislative body.
“Even if they are following the law, they are not necessarily using it for the best thing,” Thampy said. “Military grade equipment in a local police department is probably legal, but is it desirable? There is this conflict of interest because law enforcement gets to decide what they do with the revenue, rather than having it go through a system of checks and balances. We advocate that this money should go to a general fund, and a legislative body should appropriate it.”
Connecticut Police Chiefs Association President John Daly, who is chief in Southington, responded to the criticism by saying that the law allows for police to decide how the money will be spent.
“I would say that the way it is set up now, with the money being used for training and to enhance investigative skills, that is where it is well spent,” John Daly said.