Feds Tell Nation’s Cops to Stop Illegally Seizing Motorists’ Property…But Only if they Want To
Following media reports about police seizing property from American motorists, federal officials are now advising local law enforcement agencies to be careful about confiscating cars, cash and other valuables.
But the new code of conduct, issued in October by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program for state troopers and highway patrols, is strictly voluntary, The Washington Post reported.
It says in part that members of the Domestic Highway Enforcement community recognize they must adhere to the “highest standards of integrity and ethical principles in the performance of traffic safety enforcement activities.” It describes highway interdiction as an “ancillary endeavor.”
The code was created following concerns about “an aggressive enforcement technique known as ‘highway interdiction,’ which often involves large numbers of traffic stops by officers looking for drugs, illicit cash and other contraband,” Robert O’Harrow Jr. wrote at the Post.
The newspaper previously reported that cities and counties have seized more than $2.5 billion since 2001 through the federal Equitable Sharing Program, which encourages local police to stop citizens and seize their possessions, even if they haven’t been proven to having done anything wrong. The agency making the seizure gets to keep 80% of the loot, with the remainder going to the federal government.
“We felt the need to stake out another position here. It’s not all about ‘policing for profit,’” said Jack Killoran, director of the HIDTA office in Atlanta.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley
To Learn More:
Federal Officials Issue New Code of Conduct for Police Highway Seizures (by Robert O’Harrow Jr., Washington Post)
Local Governments Increase Revenue by Seizing Property Belonging to those not charged with Crimes (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)
Seizing Citizens’ Property as a Revenue Source for Law Enforcement (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
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