Policing for Profit

Policing for Profit

A quote from the article, Federal Judge Orders Justice Department To Return Over Million Dollars Taken At Traffic Stop By Nebraska Officers, from the web site, Jonathan Turley.c36e


We have previously discussed how police are increasingly doing drug stops on pretextual grounds and seizing any money that a driver cannot explain to their satisfaction. It is called “policing for profit” and departments are able to keep much of seized money in these stops. The federal government is being forced to return over $1 million to Tara Mishra, 33, of California, who was taking her life savings as a stripper to buy her own business. That was before it was seized by Nebraska state troopers who declared that it must be drug proceeds. Even though no drugs were found and there was no basis for concluding the cash was from drug proceeds, the matter became a federal case and the Obama Administration fought her to deny her even a hearing for demanding the money back. Now U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon has ordered them to give back the money. However, this is not considered theft because police officers took the money at a traffic stop. The case is United States of America v. $1,074,900.00 in United States Currency, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11544 (D. Neb. 2013).

Jonathan Turley is absolutely right. This kind of confiscation, “policing for profit,” is ridiculous.

What happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” If you read the following articles, you will quickly note the slender evidence used to seize this money. Is that how things are supposed to work in a democracy? We suspect, therefore we seize?

More to the point, isn’t someone somewhere concerned about the police generating profits from enforcing certain laws? If enforcing drug laws is profitable and enforcing rape laws is not, what does that imply for justice?

Doesn’t that mean that instead of deciding where to deploy law enforcement based on public safety, the decision could be made on the basis of profit? Of what can be profitably seized?

Doesn’t this take police from a public service perspective to a mixed practice of profit and service with the public ignorant of what the proportions are?

What kind of legislators thought this would be a good idea? Are we deliberately trying to create law enforcement agencies based on the profit motive? Is that good policy?

Law enforcement should be profit neutral, so that crimes are handled by their danger to public safety not whether or not a forfeiture is likely.

I don’t have any problems with seizing property used in crime but I have serious doubts about assuming money or property is forfeit when no charges are filed.

James Pilant



From around the web.

From the web site, Lord of the Net.


George Washington University law professor Jonathon Turley’s most recent blog entry claims that behavior like this falls in line with an increasing trend called “policing for profit.” Authorities will conduct a drug stop on “pretextual grounds,” like speeding, and then confiscate any money the driver can’t explain to their satisfaction.

According to the Institute for Justice, police can legally use the money, or profits from selling any other confiscated property, to fund their agencies. So-called civil forfeiture doesn’t require the police to charge owners before confiscating their property.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has won the return of almost $20,000 to a Latino migrant farmworker whose money was taken by police during a traffic stop in Alabama despite criminal charges never being brought against him.

From the web site, Southern Poverty Law Center.


An Alabama circuit judge dismissed the case and ordered the money returned to Victor Marquez. The actions came after the state refused to provide documents and information to SPLC lawyers representing Marquez.

A Loxley, Ala., police officer confiscated the money during a May 2008 traffic stop, claiming it was drug money.

“This traffic stop was nothing short of piracy,” said Mary Bauer, director of the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project. “In the end, Loxley authorities apparently thought it was better to return Mr. Marquez’s hard-earned money than to open their practices to public scrutiny.”

From the web site, Ready or not … here I CHUM!!


By Phil Williams

Chief Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A major News Channel 5 investigation has uncovered serious questions about Tennessee’s war on drugs. Among the questions: are some police agencies more concerned about making money off the drugs, than stopping them?

At the center of this months-long investigation are laws that let officers pull driver over looking for cash.  Those officers do not even have to file criminal charges against a person to take his/her money.

It turns out, those kind of stops are now happening almost every day in Middle Tennessee. Case in point: a 2009 stop where a tractor trailer was stopped for a traffic violation, leading to a search and the discovery of large blocks containing almost $200,000 cash — cash that officers keep on the suspicion that it’s drug money.

From the web site, The Intersection of Madness and Reality.


Speaking to then District Attorney General Kim Helper about these stops and seizures in her jurisdiction, when  asked if it was a way to make money, she responded, “Well, you know, when you say ‘make money,’ I guess it is a way for us to continue to fund our operations so that we can put an end to drug trafficking and the drug trade within this district.” So how are police officers able to trample one’s 4th Amendment right as it relates to search and seizures? Easy. Under the guise of the “war on drugs,” the state allows police to seize money simply based on the suspicion that it’s linked to drug trafficking. The troubling part about the application of said practice, is that even without an arrest, an individuals money can be seized.

I guess this gives credence to the notion that money has no owners, just spenders.


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