Should police be able to seize money from people without being charged with a crime? | The Tylt

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Should police be able to seize money from people without being charged with a crime?
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This video showing a UC Berkeley police officer confiscating money from a food vendor went viral. People don't have any issues with enforcing laws, but taking money out of a man's wallet is just wrong. 

A petition demanded the university fire the police officer shown in the video. It received 13,000 signatures by the morning after the video was posted. 

Here's what Berkeleyside is reporting about the incident:

According to online records from UCPD, the vendor was ticketed at Piedmont Avenue and Bancroft Way, across from Memorial Stadium where the football game took place, just after 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The 34-year-old man got a ticket related to vending without a license, which is a violation of the Berkeley Municipal Code. It was the only such citation for the day, which was the first home game of the season. UCPD spokeswoman Sgt. Sabrina Reich said Monday that the $60 was “seized as suspected proceeds of the violation and booked into evidence.” Reich said three other people were detained on suspicion of vending without a license, but they were released with a warning.
#DefundCriminals

Civil asset forfeiture is a powerful tool to fight crime. It allows police departments to take cash from criminals and use it as police resources. It allows police to seize guns and other tools used for crime in order to immediately weaken criminal organizations.

Sessions says the concerns about police seizing the property of innocent people are unfounded. He points out "four out of five administrative civil asset forfeitures filed by federal law enforcement agencies were never challenged in court." Civil asset forfeiture is a tool—it's only as good or bad as the people using it. Police departments must be careful when they're using these tools.

Sessions finished his speech in which he announced the new civil asset forfeiture rules by saying:

Finally, I am directing agencies and components adopting seized property to prioritize assets that will most effectively advance our overall goal of reducing violent crime. We need to send clear message that crime does not pay.
With this new policy, the American people can be confident knowing that we are taking action to defund criminals and at the same time protecting the rights of law-abiding people.
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#NoPolicingForProfit

However, civil asset forfeiture is so unpopular, it's the one thing that actually unites Democrats and Republicans. As the graphic below from the Washington Post shows, asset forfeitures have surpassed burglaries. That means police are taking more money and property from people who have not been charged with a crime than actual criminals.

Asset forfeiture is not a benign tool like Sessions says. It creates a conflict of interest for police officers—one that's particularly hard to resist. Cash-strapped police departments have a huge incentive to seize assets from people to fund new projects and equipment.

At a more fundamental level, asset forfeiture violates the right to due process. Police are seizing property from citizens because they merely suspect there was some criminal wrongdoing. That's not how our justice system works. If the police want to take a person's assets, they should go through the judicial system. Otherwise, what's the point of having courts?

The way asset forfeiture is being implemented at the federal level is also unconstitutional. Despite the practice being banned in several states, the federal government has set up a system that allows police departments to circumvent state laws and take the assets anyway. This is a clear violation of the 10th Amendment and state's rights.

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Should police be able to seize money from people without being charged with a crime?
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