Asset Forfeiture

NYPD: We Don't Know How Much Cash We Seize, And Our Computers Would Crash If We Tried To Find Out

A bill in the New York City Council would force the NYPD to release annual reports on its asset forfeiture program, but the NYPD says it's impossible.

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Frances M. Roberts/Newscom

NYPD brass testified before the New York City Council Thursday that it has no idea how much money it seizes from citizens each year using civil asset forfeiture, and an attempt to collect the data would crash its computer systems, The Village Voice reported.

Concerned by the lack of transparency surrounding the NYPD's civil forfeiture program, NYC councilmember Ritchie Torres introduced legislation this year that would require annual reports from the police department about how much money it seizes, but at Thursday's hearing, the NYPD said it has no technologically feasible way to track seized money that was ultimately not pursued through asset forfeiture. From The Village Voice:

"Attempts to perform the types of searches envisioned in the bill will lead to system crashes and significant delays during the intake and release process," said Assistant Deputy Commissioner Robert Messner, while testifying in front of the council's Public Safety Committee. "The only way the department could possibly comply with the bill would be a manual count of over half a million invoices each year."

When asked by councilmember Dan Garodnick whether the NYPD had come to the hearing with any sort of accounting for how much money it has seized from New Yorkers this past year, the NYPD higher-ups testifying simply answered "no."

According to the Voice, the NYPD "claimed that it only legally forfeited $11,653 in currency last year — that is, gone to court and actually made a case as to why the NYPD should be taking this money."

As I reported last month, Bronx Defenders, a legal aid group, is suing the NYPD for public records on its asset forfeiture program, which rakes in millions in seized cash and property from arrests every year. According to the scant records Bronx Defenders did manage to get back, the NYPD reported more than $6 million in revenue in 2013 from seized cash, forfeitures, and property sold at auction, and it had a balance of more than $68 million in seized currency in any given month of that year. Bronx Defenders say the records indicate that the vast majority of seized assets are simply forfeited by default after the deadline passes for the property owner fails to go through the burdensome and Byzantine process of trying to retrieve them by the deadline.

The NYPD's "unclaimed cash and property" sales totaled $6.5 million in 2014 and more than $7 million in 2015, according to the Bronx Defender lawsuit.

Back to The Village Voice:

Testifying in front of committee members, lawyers and advocates from the Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, and Legal Aid Society relayed a litany of horrors experienced by clients who had become trapped by the NYPD's unjust civil forfeiture process. Anca Grigore, a staff attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services, told the story of one client who was arrested while a passenger in another person's car. The NYPD then went to the BDS client's home, told their brother that they needed to move the client's own car because it was blocking a driveway, and then seized the car. The BDS client eventually paid $500 to get the car back from the NYPD six months later. In another case, a BDS client had hundreds of dollars vouchered under the name of a co-defendant, whose criminal case was ongoing — the process took months to play out, and the client had to jump through several hoops just to prove the money was hers.

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108 responses to “NYPD: We Don't Know How Much Cash We Seize, And Our Computers Would Crash If We Tried To Find Out

  1. So, that’s okay then . . .

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  2. 1. This isn’t even a believable lie.
    2. The committee will probably believe it.

    1. I actually believe they currently have shitty computer systems that would make this mandate difficult to meet. That said, can’t they, you know, use some of that seized asset balance to upgrade said computer systems…?

      1. I actually believe they currently have shitty computer systems that would make this mandate difficult to meet.

        For centuries, people have managed to keep track of that sort of information without computers: a pencil and paper.

        1. Clay tablets and reeds.

          Recent translations of second-millennium Hittite tablets often contain references to “Chariot obtained consistent with property forfeiture laws (ref Hammurabi Rule C, Sec 3.2, par 4)” This might shed some light on Eug?ne Burnouf’s hitherto-inexplicable 1842 translation from a royal tablet: “Vizier informed chariot numbers cannot be confirmed due to risk of tablets breaking during the required search.”

      2. But then how will our heroes in blue enjoy their slushies from the precinct margarita machine at the end of the day?

  3. Time to reword the bill.

    No asset seizures unless they are included in the annual report.*

    *SLD

    1. No asset seizures unless they are included in the annual report.*

      FTFY

    2. I read that as “time to reward Bill”.

  4. OT, another story about the NYPD off the same link.

    Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who was videotaped administering a lethal chokehold to Eric Garner on Staten Island in 2014, made over $23,000 dollars in overtime last year, even as he remains under federal investigation for killing Garner, who was selling loose cigarettes at the time of his death. Politico New York first reported the bump in earnings by Pantaleo, who made a total of $119,996 during the time period between July 1st, 2015 to June 30th, 2016. During that period, Pantaleo was on modified duty, and did not have a badge or gun.

    1. Cops are underpaid, don’t ya know that?

    2. Those papers weren’t going to file themselves.

  5. Debated asset forfeiture with an acquaintance, a recent law school graduate. She insists not only is the practice legitimate, it’s on the up-and-up as well. How do? Well, because there’s a process police must follow. See, the process means it’s okay.

    1. Sounds like she’ll make a fine addition into the lawyer guild.

    2. We were only following process,

    3. You know who else always followed the processes and procedures?

      1. Adrian Monk?

      2. Tony Little?

      3. Mickey Haller?

      4. Eichmann?

        1. Definitely Eichmann! National Socialism is all about prayer, processes and procedures, ja?!

      5. Shut up and get on the cattle car. It’s the correct process and procedure.

      6. All of the people on my “most boring and uptight asswipes I have ever met” list

      7. Ioseb Jughashvili?

    4. Your acquaintance is devoid of respect for the bill of rights. She’ll probably do well as a lawyer.

      -jcr

  6. Speaking of testifying, deeeeeeaaaaam…

    If I had any hair, it’d been blown back. Tim Gowdy takin’ names, servin’ bitches.

    https://youtu.be/7x9Q7VCesFo

    1. Ms. Seymour – Crusty would.

    2. or Trey Gowdy?

      1. Whatever, I’m just hearing the suppressive fire.

    3. That was a verbal beatdown.

    4. That was a work of art that I just witnessed. That man is an artist.

    5. I wonder how many times in her useless, overpaid career as a taxpayer-sucking parasite Ms. Seymour has been called to account. My guess is that would be a first.

    6. One tiny bit of a silver lining if Trump wins is that Gowdy would most likely be the next Attorney General. He might even be allowed to investigate and prosecute the Clintons.

      -jcr

    7. That video needs to end with a Thug life overlay

  7. and an attempt to collect the data would crash its computer systems,

    By the way, bullshit.

  8. Sounds like the NYPD better seize themselves a database server or two.

    1. They did, but hitting it with a nightstick has not led the server to comply with their orders.

      1. “Something’s wrong. Murder isn’t working and that’s all we’re good at.”

      2. They aren’t sodomizing it right.

      3. It was probably wiped…like with a rag.

  9. Torres introduced legislation this year that would require annual reports from the police department about how much money it seizes, but at Thursday’s hearing, the NYPD said it has no technologically feasible way to track seized money that was ultimately pursued through asset forfeiture.

    Double bullshit.

    in 1989, we had 30 users in 48k tasks on a 286 running a proprietary operating system using digiboards and octopus cables, processing millions of transactions. Nineteen eighty mother fuckin’ nine.

    I want the person in IT for the NYPD in my office at 830 in the am and Imma ask some questions. And he (or she– I’m all about equality) better have some answers. Immediately following that face-to-face, I want a tour of the facilities and an asset list of all computing resources.

    1. Ironically, tallying their IT assets would also crash the system.

    2. You do realize that the NYPD isn’t accountable to you or anyone else in the world, right?

      1. Look, Hugh, if I’m not even allowed to enter a brief Fugue State and imagine myself making the NYPD great again, then what’s the point of posting here?

    3. Oh, here’s the problem, they installed Windows 10.

    4. Yeah, it’s a pretty bold lie. I’m betting that the brass is taking the heat on behalf of the significant minority of officers that have already used the cash and other assets that are supposedly being held. Simply put, they’re angling to have the City Council make this bill effective in the future so they can tamp down on this activity before anyone starts paying attention.

    5. They meant it metaphorically.
      or ironically

      I can’t tell anymore.

  10. They’re perfectly okay with commands and executing, but they get hung up on Run.

    1. excepting when it is from the factual truth

          1. noncompliant, inconvenient, whatevs . . .

  11. “The only way the department could possibly comply with the bill would be a manual count of over half a million invoices each year.”

    Ok, well time to get on that. There are plenty of companies that would love to help you out with that effort and make it so you never have to go through it ever again.

    Apparently the NYPD is too lazy and/or cheap to implement a general ledger system and those brave heroes posted to the evidence rooms are too stupid to learn rudimentary data entry. Or, more likely, they simply have “no idea” what happened to all this stuff because our heroes in blue have already, stolen and disposed of a significant portion of that confiscated property.

    1. Only half a million?

      How many people work at the NYPD?

      I work for a government agency that processes more than that per annum, and has far fewer people (by orders of magnitude). Even Public Employee apathy doesn’t prevent us from getting the work done.

      1. About 50k according to Wikipedia. Granted, most of them have to do cop things all day long, but this sort of thing isn’t rocket science. It’s the sort of thing that the entirety of the business world figured out how to deal with (at least) 30 fucking years ago. This is plainly a case of the brass trying to keep the NYPD out of yet another corruption scandal.

        1. Long before computers every business in the world figured out how to manage inventory. so yes BS on the police here

      2. Tens of thousands.

        1. And large numbers of them do nothing but stand around all day at street festivals and the like.

    2. Okay. So what. I worked a summer hand keying old GEDs into a computer system. I could do one every five minutes, figure I worked at that rate for 7 of the 8 hours I was there that’s 84 a day. That’s just under 6000 shifts. If you have 600 officers on light duty due to injuries and administrative punishment, you can knock it out in 10 shifts. Like the guy who killed Garner. He’d be perfect for this job.

      1. Get some of those rubber-room teachers on it too.

      2. Yeah, exactly. Make it the job of the light duty guys to go through the backlog and require anyone bringing in seized assets to key in that data as part of the process. Not exactly complicated.

        It’s not that they seriously believe they can’t do it, it’s a lack of will because they know what they’re going to find if they start looking through these records.

        1. Seized assets are no different than seized evidence. The same system can be used. Full stop.

      3. We just round everything down to zero.

      1. The officer in charge of the evidence room, Susan Zopatti, killed herself in May after learning of the audit, The Globe reported. Shortly after her death, police recovered two of the missing firearms at Zopatti’s home.

        Case closed.

  12. A bill in the New York City Council would force the NYPD to release annual reports on its asset forfeiture program, but the NYPD says it’s impossible.

    Too soon after 9/11.

  13. Reason needs a FYTW tag for these types of articles.

    1. It would be flagging the majority of the articles and really wouldn’t help sorting anything on the site. It was also crash the system.

  14. RE: NYPD: We Don’t Know How Much Cash We Seize, And Our Computers Would Crash If We Tried To Find Out

    Dammit!
    This is why we need The State to have more power over us.
    The NYPD needs more money seized from the little people.
    Otherwise, their computers will crash, and they won’t enjoy the porn when they’re not shooting unarmed people.
    Plus, anyone’s computer would crash if they would try to find out how much money they have.
    Just ask anyone from Microsoft.

  15. Where I work there is a database stored procedure that starts around 10pm. If it does not complete before midnight, it will crash because of the date change and there is no way to fix this.

    However, if it does crash because the clock struck twelve, we simply restart it and it runs fine.

    It is remotely plausible that the NYPD has some similar issue when trying to tally all of its invoices, however, I can think of 2 solutions: 1) find a time when it won’t crash the system. 2) Instead of finding the total, get sub-totals from the various locations and then total them up by hand so at least you have a general idea of how much is being taken.

    Hopefully at least one member of the committee has a close friend or relative who works in IT who can call bullshit on the obvious lie.

  16. AArrrr! If wes try’n count ar booty, ar ships’ll sink….

    When all the Enron/Worldcom shit was hitting the fan 15 years ago, and just about every private business entity in the country was sweating bullets, and the DOJ and SEC mandarins were cock-a-whooping it around (as if much has changed since), the SEC admitted it could not account for the fines it levied and where all of the money went (I’m sure NONE of it ended up in bureaucrat private hands). Tens, if not hundreds, of MILLIONS of dollars without an accounting. If a private entity can’t account for itself, people end up in jail or suffer the very fines the SEC couldn’t be bothered to account for. For some strange reason, that never hit the front pages of the MSM. The rules for the citizenry and the rules for the apparatchiki were/are very much different, a condition known as “tyranny”.

    /AArrrrrrr

    1. shhhhhhh….. evry time you use the t word, a subpoena gets its wings

      1. “Tyranny, tyranny, tyranny, tyranny, he get me, I’m givin’ out wings…”

        /namesake of the two main characters on The Big Bang Theory

  17. You know, I can almost believe they’re incompetent enough to be using a giant Access database…

    1. Half a million records and 20 locations all on the same virtual network in the same city? I could build something in Access that could handle that without choking. Now, you start trying to connect an Access front end to a SQL backend in another country? Yeah. That’s how I learned to write webapps on a major corporation’s dime.

      1. 500,000 records was what I always said was Access’s limit…back in the 90s.

        It would handle this just fine.

  18. You know, I actually believe them that they can’t account for all that money. And I also believe that’s not a mistake.

    1. They’re following the Pentagon’s lead. It’s well established now that an armed department of the government can simply refuse to account for the money they steal and nobody will get fired for it.

      -jcr

  19. This is what I’m talking about when I say there are rampant abuses not getting enough airtime. Shootings are another very important topic and highlight abuse but their are more common abuses which must be highlighted that impact the general population throughout the USA. Cavity search abuses (I experienced two unfounded cavity searches in two states 16 years apart both times done to ‘put me in my place’ so to speak), the confiscation of cash during traffic stops where no crime is involved, beatings which don’t involve death, cops having sex with prostitutes to arrest them (including minors) so many abuses needing discussion.

    1. Too many of the asset forfeiture victims are white.

  20. In other words, Serpico was right, and there’s corruption at all levels of the NYPD.

  21. I suppose we could be charitable and say that the NYPD has a *LOUSY* computer system, but whatever the excuse, changes still need to be made.

  22. Our Computers Would Crash If We Tried To Find Out

    They should seize better computers then.

  23. You know, we will reach a point where the cops job is to be criminals in the same way that the firemen’s jobs in Fahrenheit 451 was to start fires.

  24. If they had to properly account for all their seizures, the “Widow’s and Orphan’s Fund” would take a serious hit.

  25. In a 2011 Wall Street Journal graph of “Forfeitures Around The Nation” the amount looted by State/federal prohibitionism was $648 million, with green circles over population centers, their areas proportional to the amount of cash looted. Their source was the DOJ. The year 2011 was Depression City, with Geithner and Hillary in high gear exporting prohibitionism and confiscatory looting to the rest of the world. Why? My guess is to stage a recovery by shorting their futures and derivatives markets. So NY is where I would look for LP support once the locals realize they’ve been robbed and raped into recession by Dubya (Waffen) Bush, the godly prohibitionist.

    1. It’s hard to beat Hinh on strict definitions of insanity, but little snot-stained Hanky is willing to go there!

      He talks 2011 with Hilldog and Turbo-tax Timmy, and then he blames it on Bush…

  26. But ALL expenditures of the common clave are tracked, cataloged, folded, spindled and mutilated. Ya, that sounds like the sounds of “we the peeps” make whilst hanging onto our ankles alright.

  27. One of my all-time favorite movies had a thing about “New York’s Finest Taxi Service,” where for a few hundred thousand, a well-heeled criminal can get his own police escort while in the city.

    I’m starting to wonder if that part of the movie was actually based in reality.

  28. The problem is that the NYPD, like other “duly constituted mobs” would rather not discuss the amount of it’s ill gotten gain, aka income via theft, another description applicable to the Civil Asset Forfeiture racket.

  29. .Ritchie Torres introduced legislation this year that would require annual reports from the police department about how much money it seizes.

    Well, there’s the problem right there. Torres only called for an accounting. You want to know how much money they seized, income tax it. The IRS knows how to ask the good questions.

  30. So early, so hungover.

    Anyway, first of all, shit like this kills me because my PD is actually pretty damn great. Mostly straight shooters–no pun intended–who actually do helpful things and aren’t dicks. Secondly, unless the NYPD keeps this info in the world’s largest spreadsheet, my fucking phone can run the query to generate a report of this data. It’s just not that hard. Actual numbers don’t take up that much space, and adding them isn’t difficult in processing terms, even if you’ve got to write the world’s gnarliest query to get them all.

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  32. Maybe if there was a way to stop the seizures, we could prevent the computers from crashing!
    Maybe a constitutional amendment along these lines?
    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”
    Maybe?
    Nah, too complicated and hard to understand.

  33. The City Council should call the NYPD’s bluff and simply ban ALL civil asset forfeiture. Can’t account for it? Then don’t do it at all.

  34. This is why I hate Black Lives Matter. Police brutality was an issue we libertarians have been complaining about for ages. It was on the up and up with cameras everywhere but BLM decides to hijack the cause and highlight lowlife criminals as their champions… Now, police units have doubled down and our natural allies, constitutional conservatives, are disregarding the police brutality epidemic entirely.

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