Drug Policy

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.

NEXT: Nostalgianomics

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  1. Yikes. Nothing like giving cops a financial incentive to turn everyone into a criminal. This is the sort of thing that could cause me to look for another country to live in.

  2. Can the drug war provide a cash surge to “strapped” police departments?

    Isn’t this what the drug war has done all along? I put two and two together when I was 14 and envied Crockett’s Daytona that he got to drive around as a personal vehicle.

  3. At least they’re being more honest about their racket now. Maybe that will help people see it for what it is.

    “This is the sort of thing that could cause me to look for another country to live in.”

    Which one though? My limited travels have made me of the mind that “while it’s bad here, it’s worse there.”

  4. Damnit SF! You’re a minute a head of me on these things.

  5. Kyle,

    It’s all part of my stimulus package. I used to subscribe to trickle-down commentnomics, but a rising tide only lifts those boats that aren’t firmly anchored.

  6. You guys just don’t understand. All of our tax money goes to pay for crooked politicians, fat public pension, and chroney “stimulus contracts”. After paying for those esentials, there is just no money left over for things like police and fire protection. So if the drones want that stuff, they are just going to have to fork over the money. Taking it from the via forfetiture is just as good as any other method.

  7. SF,

    To paraphrase Tracy Morgan from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back:

    ” I have no idea what the fuck you just said, but you touched my heart!”

  8. I’m working on my Senate run. Which will be rough considering that my wife wouldn’t even write me in for mayor.

  9. Oh, you married outside the ideology too, SugarFree? Yeah, we try not to talk about politics around my house. I have to save it up for the office.

  10. Xeones,

    Oh, no. She’s a libertarian with a heavy shading of “politics is boring.” She’d be fine with a libertarian mayor, just not me.

  11. Gotcha, SugarFree. Mine claims to be a social democrat in the abstract but is libertarian when it comes to practical matters, though i can’t get her to admit it.

  12. 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.

    There is no light side. We are rewarding law enforcement for lying, for making accusations they could never prove in court.

    Hey drug warriors, after a decade or so, do you have the balls to admit this was a fucking bad idea?*

    Nice business you have here. It sure woul;d be a shame if we “found” some drugs and a scumbag informant to say he bought it here.

    * Rhetorical question.

  13. This gives a great, make that goddamed fucking brilliant idea! We should use the exact same tactics to fund our war peace keeping nation building whatever efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead of paying the soldiers, let them fund themselves by confiscating property from anyone who can’t prove they aren’t an insurgent/terrorist or a supporter.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  14. This gives me a, …


  15. I escaped from the health care racket in 2007 because I felt like a front for a criminally abusive health scare/snare system. The absentee bosses, who call all the shots but assume no personal risk, are busily exploiting patients and health care professionals to churn profits for insurance, drug, medical technology, legal, educational, and government systems–to name a few–and generating huge artificial markets for unproven, patented drugs and technology. Americans are way overdosed, and doctors are passively colluding in the scam.

    I have come to believe all drug and alcohol laws are unconstitutional. If you don’t own your body, who owns you? We all know what that’s called. Why should a doctor or the government have the power to decide what you can ingest? Doctors take hits from everyone if they are wrong. It would be safer and healthier for doctors to function in an advisory and educational capacity, but to allow adult patients to purchase their drugs over the counter, without prescriptions. I guarantee health care costs would plummet, and doctors could function as more than prescription writing machines.

    K. C. Otto, MD

  16. The new and exciting charge here in Alabama is chemical endangerment of a child. Used for piling on charges for crack addicted mothers-to-be and meth cooking parents.

    My question is this: aren’t the assets that are taken by the cops so tainted with drug residue that they really shouldn’t be reused or the money put back into public circulation? Aren’t authorities endangering the public with their ill-gotten booty?

  17. Couldn’t we kill two birds with one stone in legalizing drugs? We could save $50 billion annually so there’d be plenty of money for 50″ TVs at the station and we’d stop seizing property *and* we’d cease incarcerating a huge percentage of our population. Wow! That’s 3 birds!

    Oh, wait… that would mean we wouldn’t need as many cops. The union couldn’t stand for that so it looks like we’ll need to keep those poor bastards in jail for years on end, seize *constituent* property and recklessly spend billions of dollars on a dreadfully losing proposition. Yay us!

  18. 50-inch TV monitors at station houses for playing training videos

    Who knew GTA IV was a training video?

  19. The funny thing is that drug reformers have pushed for laws that would transfer forfeited assets to the general fund rather than staying in the police dept., saying that otherwise the police have too great an incentive to make seizures and associated actions. I always thought it would be even worse to put it into the gen’l treasury, thus giving the entire community a stake in forfeited assets.

  20. “””At least they’re being more honest about their racket now.”””

    Some people love sticking to the criminals. They think the criminals deserve whatever the system does, just or not.

    “””Who knew GTA IV was a training video”””

    They thought it was an intelligence video bringing them up to speed on current crime trends.

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