“We Need a Drug Dog So We Can Seize More Property and Raise More Money”

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Eapen Thampy, Americans for Forfeiture Reform

WMUF 104.7 FM in Henry, Tennessee, reports:

Henry, Tenn.- At the Henry Mayor and Board of Alderman meeting on Tuesday, board members decided to allow police chief David Andrews to institute a K9 program for the Henry Police Department.

Andrews told board members that the city is missing out on possible revenues that a K9 would bring. He said when you make traffic stops and the driver refuses to allow a search, their hands are tied. If a drug dog alerts on a vehicle, its gives officers probable cause to search a vehicle for drugs or illegal proceeds from drugs. More drug arrests and drug, cash, and vehicle seizures lead to more revenues coming in for the police department and city.

Andrews said the military has a drug dog program and he could get a dog for the city at no upfront cost. The dogs are usually labs and are very gentle, and come trained as drug dogs. Andrews said four hours per week of training is required but the officers will work that into their regular hours. The dog would stay at the officers residence at night and any monies for food, water, and vet care would come from the drug fund.

The board of alderman also approved to allow city recorder Sonya Clayton to call in Jessica Lucas for some part time help in the office whenever needed.
Mayor Joe Qualls said the workload on Clayton has become very heavy and some part time help is needed certain days of the month and to allow backup for sickness and vacation for the city recorder.

Lucas has worked with the city part time before, and was called in a couple of weeks ago when they really needed some help. Lucas never quit or was terminated, but the new budget never allowed for the part time help so she didn’t come back on a regular basis.

The part time help will be at the city recorder’s discretion, brining her in an average of a couple days per week and training her on court paperwork, water bills, deposits, and all aspects of the office. This will be part time, temporary help for the rest of this budget year. It would be up to the city whether or not to budget it again once the new budget year starts next July.

The Institute for Justice reports that Tennessee’s asset forfeiture law rates a “D”:

Tennessee has broad civil forfeiture laws that fail to protect the rights of property owners. There, the government must establish by only a preponderance of the evidence that property is related to a crime and subject to forfeiture. Tennessee also effectively presumes owners are guilty, as the property owner bears the burden of proof for innocent owner claims. And, while it cannot be used to supplement salaries, local drug enforcement nonetheless keeps 100 percent of property forfeited, and there is no requirement to collect or report data on the use of forfeiture or its proceeds in Tennessee.

 

Update:

Turns out there previously has been misuse of forfeited vehicles, cash, and drugs by law enforcement in Henry County:

A state comptroller’s special investigation of West Tennessee’s 24th Judicial Drug Task Force turned up instances of theft by the agency’s administrative assistant and jail trustees smoking seized crack cocaine.

It also reveals that District Attorney General Hansel McCadams and Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew had a penchant for using a confiscated BMW Z-3 car for their personal use.

The examination of drug task force operations was conducted by the Comptroller’s Division of County Audit with aid from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Auditors said items from drug seizures were stolen or misused with a task force administrative assistant and her ex-husband admitting to taking drugs and other seized items, including utility trailers and a flat-screen television, from the task force.

The report from the Comptroller’s Division of County Audit said McCadams and other directors of the task force were lax in reviewing the agency’s operations. The task force itself didn’t have adequate record-keeping or inventory management practices.

Auditors said they found a group of jail trustees on a work detail had access to seized items without sufficient supervision. Because of that, the report says, some trustees gained access to drug case files, smoked crack cocaine and marijuana while at the Drug Task Force headquarters and stole cash, old coins and other equipment.

According to auditors, McCadams sometimes used a variety of confiscated equipment including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a golf cart, a go cart, a four-wheeler and a trailer for his personal use. He flew on Drug Task Force airplanes and a helicopter on non-official business, according to the report.

Hat Tip: Orin Kerr at Volokh.

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22 Responses to ““We Need a Drug Dog So We Can Seize More Property and Raise More Money””

  1. #1 |  Bob | 

    He said when you make traffic stops and the driver refuses to allow a search, their hands are tied. If a drug dog alerts on a vehicle, its gives officers probable cause to search a vehicle for drugs or illegal proceeds from drugs.

    Wow, they’re not even trying to hide their motives. He’s saying… “Hey, we stop these cars, and we have no reason to search at all, but if it’s a black or hispanic male driving it, we’ll hail mary it and have the dog alert on the car so we can search it.”

    Then of course, if they find drugs, or think they find find drugs… or if they find money, especially if they find money… they impound everything.

    How long before they just say “Screw it, we can get away with anything.” and start searching the cars before the drug dog even shows up? They already know it will alert. Think of how many more cars they can stop that way!

  2. #2 |  Ken | 

    With any luck, they’ll screw it up and get sued into bankruptcy. And they wonder why we call them pigs and other epithets. They don’t care about serving the public, only serving up revenues and terrorizing the public to do it.

  3. #3 |  Jon Seaton | 

    Maybe their city council should watch Breakfast in Collinsville and see how cops behave with their drug dogs.

  4. #4 |  Charlie O | 

    Seeing as how it’s so far across Tennessee going East/West, it’s the perfect setup for highway thievery. I will not drive I-40 across TN for that reason. There have been numerous reports on television in that state describing how they don’t stop the east bound traffic looking for drugs, they prefer westbound looking for the cash.

  5. #5 |  Bergman | 

    Asset forfeiture laws tend to trigger on any criminal behavior, not just drugs (though those sorts of forfeitures are the most common justification).

    Title 18, Chapter 13, Sections 241 and 242 are laws that make it a federal crime to violate a citizen’s rights. The Supreme Court has ruled that an unconstitutional law is null and void from the moment of inception, not the moment a constitutional challenge succeeds.

    In an asset forfeiture case, the usual 4th, 5th and 14th amendment rules of evidence and due process are not applied to whether the asset is seized, since citizens have those rights, not land or objects.

    The mere accusation is enough for a default judgment in favor of seizure; The property owner must go to court to prove not only ownership, but also that the property was not used in a crime (often an impossibility). The crime not being committed by the owner is not a defense against the seizure, there have been numerous cases where a car thief stole a car and the car was forfeited from the actual owner because the thief had illegal drugs when caught.

    So it occurs to me to wonder: If you accuse a police department as a whole of violating 18USC241 and individual officers of violating 18USC242, assert that the police station itself is part of their criminal activities, could you start a forfeiture action against the property?

    How about a police car that was being driven by an officer who lost a 42USC1983 lawsuit? The officer’s sidearm?

    Such fascinating possibilities…

  6. #6 |  Jay | 

    That’s hardly what he’s saying. Granted, he’s implying that every stop he makes he asks for permission to search, but that’s drug interdiction training 101. He makes no mention of race or gender, not does he imply it. Just because he can legally seize property used in the delivery or transport of drugs, and frankly says so, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it.

    That said, if it’s the same entity that failed to control and improperly used their seized inventory, that should be looked at and punished severely. We in LE can be idiots and do more harm than good to our reputations because of crap like that.

  7. #7 |  Mike Williams | 

    Aaaaand another kick to the groin. Unfortunately, people in my neck of the woods tend to think this kind of thing is a-okay. As a matter of fact, if you question authority in any way, you must be unamrrrcan. Sofa king depressing.

  8. #8 |  Jim Collins | 

    “The mere accusation is enough for a default judgment in favor of seizure; The property owner must go to court to prove not only ownership, but also that the property was not used in a crime (often an impossibility).”

    Remember the saying “you can’t prove a negative”? The previous statement is a prime example of it.

  9. #9 |  Matthew | 

    I’d genuinely like to hear a representative LEAP view of these sorts of practices. I don’t mean I want to hear them say, “Regulate drugs like alcohol, and the problem disappears.” I want to hear them address revenue-generation and law-circumvention tactics, irrespective of specifics.

  10. #10 |  Eapen Thampy | 

    I am glad to say that LEAP actually does have a working group on asset forfeiture! I expect to hear good things.

  11. #11 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    My uncle is an officer of the law and says K9 Units can also sniff out anarchists, illegal aliens, guns and heathens. Anyone know if that’s true?

  12. #12 |  AlgerHiss | 

    #2…Charlie O…”I will not drive I-40 across TN…”

    You have to drive I40 from Memphis to Knoxville to fully understand how correct Charlie O is: It is truly disgusting.

    Like a rapist or pedophile awaiting their next victim, these multi-jurisdictional task forces, always in ‘roided out vehicles, are stunningly numerous.

    We have no business blowing smoke up our own asses with phrases like “…land of the free and home of the brave”.

    When we put up with this nonsense, we are neither.

  13. #13 |  theCL Report: “for the children” | 

    […] "We Need a Drug Dog So We Can Seize More Property and Raise More Money" […]

  14. #14 |  ALowe | 

    Highway Patrol? More like Highwaymen.

  15. #15 |  Wild Will | 

    Sounds like the Sheriff of Nottingham to me…Robin Paul to the rescue, eliminate the ‘Drug War’, eliminate the problem…no war – no money – no stops – done !

  16. #16 |  marie | 

    Just because he can legally seize property used in the delivery or transport of drugs, and frankly says so, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it.

    Not quite. He can legally seize property suspected or accused of being used in the delivery or transport of drugs. They don’t have to prove a damned thing.

    Nothing wrong with that, eh?

  17. #17 |  Bob | 

    #6 Jay:

    That’s hardly what he’s saying. Granted, he’s implying that every stop he makes he asks for permission to search, but that’s drug interdiction training 101. He makes no mention of race or gender, not does he imply it. Just because he can legally seize property used in the delivery or transport of drugs, and frankly says so, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it.

    That is EXACTLY what he is saying. He doesn’t have a shred of probable cause to stop cars on the context that they may have drugs or drug proceeds in them. Unless there’s cocaine just flying out of the open trunk, or benjamins blowing out the windows… there is no possible way to know if any random car has drugs or drug proceeds in it. It all comes down to PROFILING.

    The very act of stopping a car for suspicion of drug activity without probable cause is inherently illegal… so they PROFILE the possible targets, stop for whatever bullshit reason, then use the probable cause generator (K9) when the perp lawyers up (Does not consent to search.)

  18. #18 |  Danny | 

    I-24 is not much better in Rutherford County.

  19. #19 |  Windy | 

    I ope someone knowledgeable responds to Bergman’s (#5) comment. I would really like to know the opinion of whether or not that would work as he queried.

  20. #20 |  Eapen Thampy | 

    Bergman…the scenario you describe is possible only in a world where law enforcement is impartial and fair. IE, not the status quo.

  21. #21 |  PaulTheCabDriver | 

    Here is an idea. Leave a tiny piece of poisoned beef jerky under the seat of your car. If a dog ever starts sniffing in it, he will snag it & scarf it down without anyone knowing about it.
    Goodbye dog.
    And if they charged you with killing the mutt, well, that would be about impossible to prove.

  22. #22 |  Militant Libertarian » “We Need a Drug Dog So We Can Seize More Property and Raise More Money” | 

    […] from the Agitator […]

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