Updated: Jan 19
The City Council discussed changes to what they do with the assets they confiscate from folxs
What is asset forfeiture?
Asset forfeiture is also referred to as equitable sharing. It is a civil procedure that determines whether money and or property seized during a criminal investigation are the profits of illegal activities or if they are used to support illegal activities.
When the court decides that seized property is subject for forfeiture - Profits from said property are first given to innocent property owners, and victims. Next it goes to prosecutors, law enforcement and the state general fund.
There’s a clear ethical issue with law enforcement financially benefiting from seized property. There are lots of laws to try to mitigate this issue, but at the end of the day Law enforcement is still relying on taking property for their operational expenses.
Law enforcement gets 65% of money from forfeiture, and pledges to spend 15% of their winnings on youth programs. Here’s the breakdown of where the money goes
In addition to the millions of dollars they receive from our general fund, they are also using the majority of anything seized for their operation budgets, travel expenses, and new equipment. While CM Angelique Ashby was quick to try to move the motion forward, Eric Guerra called this plan “bad budgeting” and asked that the city manager make a resolution to move the money from law enforcement operations and more into community programming.
He also included creating an RFP process for nonprofits to apply for grants instead of allowing the SPD to handpick with organizations monies go to. Ashby refused to accept Guerra’s amendment to her motion. After some uncomfortable silence Jeff Harris seconded Ashby’s motion. The motion was passed with a commitment from the Mayor that he would personally work with Guerra and Vang to be sure this issue is agendized in the future.
See video of the exchange below.