Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Asset seizure funds used to buy FVA equipment

This just in from the Kane County Chronicle: "The St. Charles Police Department’s new video evidence processing system has, in its first six months of use, helped police solve a burglary and armed robbery by enhancing surveillance video.

But the department would not have been able to afford the equipment if it hadn’t been for a 2009 traffic stop leading to arrests that, through a drug asset seizure of confiscated funds, eventually netted the department more than $20,000, Deputy Chief Dave Kintz said.

“Without having access to a seizure like that, I can guarantee you we would not be able to make that purchase for several years,” he said.

Officials of other law enforcement agencies in the Tri-Cities agree that asset forfeitures can help maximize their departments’ limited budgets since, officials said, the money can be spent on drug enforcement, overtime, training and other public safety items.

“It puts us in a position where we don’t have to put those things in our budget,” Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said.

Geneva Police Cmdr. Julie Nash said, however, that asset forfeitures is not an area her department depends on.

“It is very unpredictable,” she said in an e-mail. “Therefore, it would not be fiscally responsible to count on something that cannot be guaranteed.”

Indeed. Kintz said the $20,000 seizure was unusual for St. Charles. Credit goes to the officer who stopped the vehicle for not having a valid registration, he said.

“That was a tremendous job on the officer’s part to notice that,” Kintz said.

Perez and other officials said law enforcement agencies are limited to seizing money from drug arrests until a Cook County court case that challenges the legality of vehicle seizures is finalized.

Before that case, Perez said, the sheriff’s department also would generate money by selling seized cars and would add such vehicles to its undercover fleet ..."

Continue reading the story by clicking here.


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