The Department of Justice has announced a moratorium on splitting gains made from its civil asset forfeiture program with local law enforcement. Budget cuts of $1.2 billion made keeping the practice “impossible,” the DOJ said, upsetting police groups.
While federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the US Marshals will continue using the legal tool, the“equitable sharing payments” will not return until “a later date should the budget picture improve,” according to the DOJ.
Civil asset forfeiture is the taking of property by authorities who suspect it has been used in a crime, and it is often a profitable routine. When large sums of cash aren’t being directly collected as alleged drug money, other items like cars or houses can eventually be liquidated to fund police pet projects.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police was not pleased with the decision.
“We want to make clear that neither the IACP, nor any of our law enforcement partners, were consulted regarding this announcement. The position of the IACP is this decision is detrimental to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve,” the group e-mailed its members in response to the DOJ suspending the sharing program.
The Asset Forfeiture Program Funds were first slashed by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 last month, cutting $746 million. The next decrease came in the omnibus $1 trillion spending bill known as the Consolidated Appropriations…