Several alternative and mainstream journalists have reported on an uptick in civil asset forfeiture in recent years— and a growing army of lawyers and activists are fighting back against the legalized theft. But the head of the nation’s top police union doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.
In fact, in an opinion piece for the Daily Caller, Fraternal Order of Police president David Canterbury said he believes reports of police essentially stealing property from citizens without having to prove guilt of a crime are simply “fake news.”
“Amidst the current national furor against ‘fake news’ is another, more pervasive issue of creating ‘fake issues’ like the myth of policing for profit,” he writes. “There’s been widespread discussion about the need to end the Federal equitable sharing program because a journalist or columnist writes a sympathetic piece describing a case in which the system may not have functioned as intended.”
Canterbury is saying that only fringe media and irresponsible journalists would suggest that police departments would attempt to use civil asset forfeitures to pad their bottom lines.
Oddly enough, he then goes on to bring up police department budget cuts. Canterbury contends that equitable sharing, the process by which departments split up the assets they seize, is vital to keeping department budgets afloat.
He writes: “The resources provided by the equitable sharing program have allowed agencies to participate in joint task forces to thwart and deter serious criminal activity and terrorism, purchase equipment, provide training upgrade technology, engage their communities, and better protect their officers. It has been remarkably successful.
“We need to understand just how thinly stretched law enforcement has become in the past decade. We are increasingly called upon to do more and more–including calls for service outside our training parameters–with less and less. It’s a cycle we no longer stay ahead of.”
While the FOP president admits that “there can be found instances of abuse” of civil asset forfeiture, he says it’s still “a vital tool deprive criminals of both the proceeds and tools of crime.”
Unfortunately, even if Canterbury doesn’t want to admit it, asset forfeiture has also been used to deprive innocent Americas of personal property even when they haven’t been charged with a crime. And it it’s happened once, it’s happened too many times.
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