Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually.
In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989.
Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year.
Now, according to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.
The police have been violating the laws to confiscate assets all over the country. A scathing report on California warns of pervasive abuse by police to rob the people without proving that any crime occurred. Even Eric Holder came out in January suggesting reform because of the widespread abuse of the civil asset forfeiture laws by police.
Bloomberg News has reported now that Stop-and-Seize authority is turning the Police Into Self-Funding Gangs. They are simply confiscating money all under the abuse of this civil asset forfeiture where they do not have to prove you did anything.
…in the U.S., I see some troubling signs of a shift toward low-end institutions. Bounty hunting was a recent example (now happily going out of style). Another example is the use of private individuals or businesses to collect taxes, a practice known as tax farming. A third has been the extensive use of mercenaries in lieu of U.S. military personnel in Iraq and elsewhere. Practices such as these can save money for the government, but they encourage abuses by reducing oversight.
I’ve recently been reading about an even more worrying example of low-end statecraft: Stop-and-seize. This term refers to a practice, increasingly common since the turn of the century, of police confiscating people’s property without making an arrest or obtaining a warrant. That may not sound legal, but it is! The police simply pull you over and take your money.
A Washington Post investigative report from a year ago explains:
“[A]n aggressive brand of policing [is spreading] that has spurred the seizure of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from motorists and others not charged with crimes…Thousands of people have been forced to fight legal battles that can last more than a year to get their money back.
Behind the rise in seizures is a little-known cottage industry of private police-training firms…
A thriving subculture of road officers…now competes to see who can seize the most cash and contraband, describing their exploits in the network’s chat rooms and sharing “trophy shots” of money and drugs. Some police advocate highway interdiction as a way of raising revenue for cash-strapped municipalities.
“All of our home towns are sitting on a tax-liberating gold mine,” Deputy Ron Hain of Kane County, Ill., wrote in a self-published book under a pseudonym…Hain’s book calls for “turning our police forces into present-day Robin Hoods.”
With government unable to pay police as much as they need or would like, police are confiscating their revenue directly from the populace.
The threat to individual liberty from stop-and-seize is painfully clear. Without requirements for an arrest or for a warrant, the power to confiscate cash is a clear diminution of property rights. Effectively, the police have been given official sanction to commit literal highway robbery without the threat of punishment. People whose property was seized must pay a lot of money and spend a long time in court for even the chance of getting it back, and police who seize money with no good reason don’t, apparently, suffer any threat of discipline.
But stop-and-seize also presents a danger to public trust.
Prosecutors are now instructing police on how to confiscate money within the grey area of the law.
A class action lawsuit was filed against Washington DC where police were robbing people for as little as having $100 in their pocket.
This is getting really out of hand and it has indeed converted police into legal criminals or “gangs” as Bloomberg News calls them.