New Uses for Drug Money


Can the drug war provide a cash surge to "strapped" police departments?

State legislators ought to make it easier for financially troubled counties to use seized assets from drug cases to pay for essential services, a group that represents Ohio county commissioners said.

By law, sheriffs can use seized assets only for equipment, such as guns, computers or SWAT vehicles. But the County Commissioners' Association of Ohio wants lawmakers to allow counties to more freely use special-purpose funds, which includes money and other items taken during criminal investigations.

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said he could use the $1 million he has in two funds to pay the salaries of 15 recently laid-off deputies and officers.

"That pot can keep growing, and there's only so much equipment you can buy when you are losing personnel," he said.

To get a sense of the equipment being bought with seized assets, chew on this: In Columbus, Ohio, police used "almost $21,000 in forfeited drug money in August to install 50-inch TV monitors at station houses for playing training videos and messages from the police chief."

Whole thing here.

Reason explored the dark side of asset-seizure related to the War on Drugs back in 1993. And yes, we're still looking for the light side.