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Money from "Criminals’" Weapons Used to Buy Sheriff’s Weapons

Thanks to Michelle Wright for taking notes of what we summarize below:

What happened:

The Sacramento County BoS approved an Appropriation Adjustment Request (AAR No. 2021-2029), in the amount of $4,363,830 for FY 2020-21, to transfer funds from Restricted Special Revenue Budget Units to the Sheriff’s Budget for equipment needs. The item was passed without discussion by unanimous vote on the consent calendar.

Where’d the money come from, and where is it going?

According to the Meeting Materials, Sac County Sheriff’s Office participates in both the US Dept of Justice Equitable Sharing Program and State of California Equitable Sharing Program, which are “nationwide law enforcement initiatives that remove the tools of crime from criminal organizations, deprive wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes, recover property that may be used to compensate victims, and deter crime.”

“Federal law authorizes the United States Attorney General to share federally forfeited property with participating state and local law enforcement agencies. The exercise of this authority is discretionary and limited by statute….U.S. DOJ regulations state that any local law enforcement agency that directly participates in an investigation or prosecution that results in a federal forfeiture may request an equitable share of the net proceeds of that forfeiture.”

So, Sac Sheriff collects their shares from the state and the feds selling “tools of crime” (I.e. weapons and other paraphernalia confiscated by cops) and “places these funds in a trust,” where they put the money towards……….. Weapons and more!!!

Why is this important/next steps:

Right….so take weapons to buy weapons is how this thing works ….. ? Money could have been used for services to grow equity in underserved communities. The County’s materials claim “All expenditures are made in accordance with the Guide to Equitable Sharing for State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies “, yet there is zero indication any consideration was given towards funding “support of community-based organizations” (such as drug treatment facility, job skills program, or a youth program with drug and crime prevention education), which is listed as one of the permissible uses of the Equitable Sharing Program funds.

Instead, millions of dollars were transferred to the Sheriff’s budget for nothing but more tools of the Sheriff’s crimes (I.e. weapons and other paraphernalia!) and further militarization of Sheriffs officers.

Continued pressure is needed on the BoS to defund the Sheriff’s Office and invest in services that build wealth and improve healthcare in disadvantaged communities, like mental health services, addiction treatment programs, jobs programs, and universal basic income, as a means to prevent crime, since poverty and trauma are the primary drivers of crime. We need to start focusing on preventative measures to reduce crime and break the cycle of poverty and trauma, rather than keep throwing more and more money year-over-year at policing that is ineffective and traumatizes BIPOC communities.

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