What's the Point of Having a Legislature When the Cops Have Asset Forfeiture?

Kevin Glaser, a retired narcotics officer who currently serves as current vice president of the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association, has a very important quote in an article in today's St. Louis Riverfront Times that really deserves a lot more attention. To wit (emphasis mine):

"If we seize $50,000 from a drug seizure and it is drug proceeds, it's forfeited through the state of Missouri to the school fund to fund our schools. That sounds good. They have $50,000 to play with now. In actuality, though, what happens is our state legislators, when they're divvying out the money to the schools, and they see that $50,000 go into the school fund from asset forfeiture, they take out $50,000 they were gonna contribute to the school fund. The school fund does not make an additional $50,000 off of that. That's the way asset forfeiture has been since it came into effect.

What law enforcement has done is, seeing that there's really no good coming to Missouri from asset forfeiture because other than funding general revenue - that's all it really does - we utilize federal forfeiture, which allows us to take that $50,000 seized from the drug proceeds and then we can, applied through a court system that has several checks and balances to make sure it was a very factual and legitimate seizure, then that $50,000 -- and actually it's only 80 percent of that because the federal government gets 20 percent right off the bat -- but 80 percent of that $50,000 can come back and be used by local law enforcement for very specific -- buying equipment, buying cars, -- there are very specific requirement, you just can't go out and spend it randomly on whatever you want. It can be utilized by the police department to further enhance the department and drug investigations and criminal investigations.

In other words, Kevin Glaser has a problem with the idea that the Missouri Legislature might do their duty and *gasp* appropriate funds to public uses that aren't law enforcement. Indeed, under federal asset forfeiture, Missouri law enforcement does not *really* need the consent of the legislature to receive or spend public dollars...which is really the point of having a legislature in the first place.

Addendum: Carl Bearden, who served as the Speaker pro tem of the Missouri House of Representatives from 2005 to 2007, says of Glaser's statement:

His statement is a bunch of bovine fecal matter. It is an example of attempting to show the ends justify the means. His statement of redirecting money is false. He simply plays on a common perception of what happens. In the end, It is much better to have people we elect to make those decisions that the non-elected, unaccountable people like Glaser make them "on our behalf".

  

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