Local News Catches Illegal, Forfeiture-Driven Traffic Stops

Monday, August 27th, 2012

This story is a year-and-a-half old, but I missed it when it came out.

I’ve posted about Nashville’s News 5 before. They’ve been all over the forfeiture story. Can’t praise them enough for bucking the local news cliche and performing real, relevant acts of journalism.


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18 Responses to “Local News Catches Illegal, Forfeiture-Driven Traffic Stops”

  1. #1 |  el coronado | 

    “Still, neither of the agencies [pulling this bullshit] have their cameras set to record the ‘violations’, making the stops legal.”

    There ya go.

  2. #2 |  Michael Chaney | 

    No investigation ever happened:


  3. #3 |  Alex Wolcott | 

    I like that one traffic stop where the police vehicle pulls alongside to verify the offense of “Driving While Hispanic” before then pulling over said Hispanics for “weaving within the lane” (which is Police bullshitese for about 95% of bogus stops).

    Good journalism but what the hell was up with the reporter’s voice and delivery?

  4. #4 |  Dave Krueger | 

    If there are no repercussions, there is no motive to change.

  5. #5 |  Cyto | 

    From Michael’s follow-up article link:

    NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Alsobrooks, “When you look at that video, does that look like someone who’s in danger of running off the road?”

    “I didn’t look at the video,” the DA said.

    Why not?

    “I’m not an expert in interdiction. I don’t pretend to be one. I’m a prosecutor, not an interdiction officer.”

    Uh, huh….

    So NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked to see all of that same supervisor’s videos. But the DA’s office stalled for months, first arguing that would violate the drivers’ privacy. Then, they said that all but a handful had been routinely destroyed.

    “The officer in question is doing a very difficult job under very dangerous circumstances trying to interdict drug dealers on the interstate, and I’m not going to stand in his way doing that,” Alsobrooks said.

    Hmmm… Not the DA’s job to do anything about criminal activity on the part of the police I guess…

    But the DA said he was surprised by the findings of our investigation that officers made 10 times as many stops on the westbound side where they’re most likely to find money… as they did on the eastbound side where they would most likely find drugs.

    But he did give them a good talking-to about that, ’cause it looks bad. So there ya go.

  6. #6 |  Eapen Thampy | 


  7. #7 |  LoFlyer | 

    This a favortite tactic of LE, “trolling” for cash and drugs, they use questionable tactics largly to intimidate the driver into allowing an illegal search, what they really want is cash. Finding drugs is secondary but allows the officers to confiscate the vehicle to sale at an auction. I spent 25 years at a local county government, and the police required a lot of service, including the narcotic unit, and it was kind of strange at first. Very suspicious, paranoid people and I suspect much of it came from the sleezebags they were busting. It took me five years to get their trust and everything was “cool” after that. The Narcs parking lot resembled a used car sales lot and it was difficult to find a place to park. The officers loved to find large amounts of cash because they can claim its “drug money” and its difficult for citizen to recovery the money without an expensive lawyer. One thing they claim is that the money was tainted drug residue or cantamination, at one point it was estimated that 80 percent of all 20 dollar bill were contaminated with cocaine residue so it is extremely easy for the cops to claim any cash is drug maney and ripe for forfeiture. Now comes the fun part, supposedly all this money is supposed to go into the local governments general fund but LE found ways to get around that and use the forfieited cash for “goodies” like new offices and the latest computers and what-not. LE loves to find drugs and confiscate vehicles, but its kind of a hassle for them because they have to go though a fair bit of paperwork and then have to wait for the vehicle to be sold at auction before they can get the cash. What they really want is cash because its quick and easy money that they can grab and screw the citizen no matter how legitimate the citizens claim for the cash.
    Kindda sux for the citizen though.

  8. #8 |  CyniCAl | 

    Tennessee police to America: “please spend your money elsewhere.”

    I will happily oblige them.

  9. #9 |  skootercat | 

    It will forever befuddle me how Sen. Webb’s S.714 got scuttled in committee without so much as a peep or a refiling. America needs police oversight and it looks like we will get it right after…the market crashes again.

  10. #10 |  Local News Catches Illegal, Forfeiture-Driven Traffic Stops « When Tennessee Pigs Fly | 

    […] http://www.theagitator.com/2012/08/27/local-news-catches-illegal-forfeiture-driven-traffic-stops/ Rate this:Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  11. #11 |  llamas | 

    “I don’t consent to any searches.”

    “Am I being detained, or am I free to go?”

    “I will not answer any questions without the presence of my attorney.”

    Repeat as required.

    Not to justify any of what’s being described here, but many of these people talk themselves deeper and deeper into trouble, by allowing themselves to become engaged in the officer’s attempts to either develop PC for a search, or obtain consent. Officers are trained in these arts and practice them every day, and it is a foolish citizen who allows him- or her-self to be drawn into the process.

    More people need to realize that, beyond the standard things about “license-and-registration”, virtually every word the officer says to you in a traffic stop is going to be part of a carefully-crafted script designed to reveal evidence against you (but never evidence in your favor) or to develop PC to search you and your vehicle. And virtually everything the officer says has some element that is designed to mislead or trap you into saying or doing something that will assist him in his endeavors..

    “Do you know why I stopped you?” – an open invitation to admit to a traffic offence.

    “You don’t mind if I take a look, do you?” – two questions. Which one are you answering? Hint – whether you answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, he has your permission to search.

    “I’m not interested in (insert penny-ante violation here)”. The unspoken part being ” . . . . but if I can’t find evidence of anything more, I’ll be happy to charge you with it anyway.”

    “We’re trying to catch drug smugglers, it would really help me out if you would . . . . . (let me conduct a fishing expedition with your consent, since I have no legal grounds to search you).

    And so forth.

    Officer take classes in this art, some refer to it as ‘verbal judo’. And they practice, every day.



  12. #12 |  liberranter | 

    Tennessee is truly out of control with the asset forfeiture scam. How many other states have similarly atrocious records?

  13. #13 |  Danny | 

    Check out the asset forfeiture investigation by Phil about the New Jersey Man that came down to TN buy a car and the follow ups about how the funds were used in the Monterey area to buy a bulldozer to work on the chief’s land. The helicopter was used to track the bulldozer to his land. I swear that one is funny. Phil Williams is a scarry person if you do wrong things. A state senator’s relative told me politicians lock their doors when they know he is on the premises. He scares government employees and I love his work.

  14. #14 |  Danny | 

    The bulldozer

    Policing for Profit

  15. #15 |  Cyto | 

    It took him four months to get his money back, but it usually takes a lot longer for most people.

    And that, Miles said, works to the benefit of the police.

    He had two clients where police agreed to drop the cases in exchange for a cut of the money — $1,000 in one case, $2,000 in another. In both cases, that was less than what they might have paid in attorney fees.

    Miles called that “extortion.”

  16. #16 |  Danny | 

    They call it the “power of persuasion” in the original post video. I drive TN interstates daily, and I was told non-white out of staters are the goal. They do pull a lot of people going eastbound on I-24 in Rutherford county. They do get some big drug busts every couple of months, which they over-estimate the drug’s value to make themselves look better. I do know that they get grant money from the Feds and TN money per bust. I believe Bart Gordon bragged about the Fed grant one time. Daily News Journal would be the bragging news agency in terms of the value of the drugs.

  17. #17 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Weaving is the perfect pretext to pull people over and look through their shit. About as concrete as “daydreaming.” I have a proposal: no more pulling over people for weaving unless they’re doing this:

  18. #18 |  Asset forfeiture roundup - Overlawyered | 

    […] a police dog because “the city is missing out on possible revenues” [dog testimonials; more Tennessee, via Eapen Thampy of Americans for Forfeiture Reform, guestblogging last month at Radley Balko's […]