Atlanta Police Departments Have Their Own Slush Funds?
It’s called civil asset forfeiture and under the law, Georgia law enforcement agencies are allowed to take and spend seized money or property which is believed to have been obtained illegally. For example, officers may seize sizable amounts of cash in a drug raid and keep that for their department. The problem is, very few law Georgia enforcement agencies are reporting these funds as required by law. According to a recent report, the Fulton County Police and Sheriff’s departments, and the Atlanta Police Department, were among those agencies not reporting; and these are the agencies sued by Institute for Justice on behalf of five Fulton County taxpayers.
For criminal defense and DUI attorneys like myself, this comes as no surprise. The concept of policing for a profit has been around for quite some time. Basically what happens is law enforcement agencies focus more on those crimes that earn them the most money. Take DUI for example. The more DUI arrest departments make, the more they are praised by politicians and lobbyists and the more they earn in the form of grants to go along with what they earn from fines. Between the fines and court required costs, DUI is really a cash cow for many law enforcement agencies in Georgia.
According to this report:
These funds are often used for less than noble purposes, such as tickets for football games, and one sheriff purchasing a $90,000 Dodge Viper and a $79,000 boat. Another local police chief used 10 vehicles obtained through civil forfeiture for personal use.
This is outrageous and a vile abuse of the law and what it means to be a police officer. What we learned in grade school about the police being our friends and about them protecting us is really a fairytale. Unfortunately, there are corrupt police officers who abuse the law and may wrongfully arrest people for their own gain. Understanding this helps to explain the all too familiar cycle of once a citizen admits to having consumed one drink, they have started down the road to being arrested for a DUI.
The many competing interests that exist is the reason why criminal defense attorneys play such an important role in society, to protect you from unlawful prosecution.