In a free society it is critical to make sure that law enforcement is properly situated within the organizational structure and that it has strong and transparent systems of control.
In order to combat crime, we cede extraordinary powers to law enforcement which, if abused, could lead to the destruction of our society. That makes it essential that systems exist to insure law enforcement entities are responsive to the people they serve.
Asset forfeiture (particularly as it has expanded under the drug war) undermines the essential structure of a free society by weakening the fiscal authority of the employers (the people).
We’ve already seen how this happens with police agencies shifting their allegiance to the federal government in order to bypass state law and get a big chunk of federal forfeiture dollars that they can control.
Americans for Forfeiture Reform point out how bizarre this has come: What’s wrong with thes story?
Precinct 3 Commissioner John Roth […] asked Sheriff Larry Fowler to use some of his forfeiture funds â€” from the seizure of cash and property â€” to rescue the fiscal year 2011-12 general fund, where commissioners seek $2 million in cuts.
â€œYou know weâ€™re in a tough spot,â€ he said as he confronted the sheriff. â€œIâ€™m asking you to see how much money could go into the [general fund] budget. How much do you need to keep in reserves?â€
[Sheriff] Fowler had told the court he wanted to use the funds â€” which he estimated at about $350,000 â€” to augment the low salaries of dispatchers and clerical personnel over the next two years.
â€œBasically, I have the money to do this,â€ he said
As Americans for Forfeiture Reform note:
The fact that this council has to negotiate with armed men over how public money is spent makes a mockery of Americaâ€™s founding principles.