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Plymouth Township Drug Forfeiture Fund Getting Federal Audit

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The $1 million-plus drug forfeiture fund in Plymouth Township is being audited by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Police Chief Tom Tiderington said last week that auditors from the justice department’s Office of the Inspector General were at the police department and were expected to be finished there by Friday. In the township’s comprehensive annual financial report for the 2012 fiscal year, the Plymouth Township Police Department’s drug forfeiture revenue was listed at more than $1.6 million.

The department receives drug forfeiture revenue through participation in a statewide Drug Enforcement Administration task force that has led to the seizure of millions of dollars of assets, including cash, from suspected drug dealers in recent years. The DEA is an agency of the justice department.

Tiderington said his department loaned an officer to the DEA task force beginning in 2010, and that the dramatic growth of the fund after that brought with it the increased federal oversight.

The task force has been involved in several major cases since then, the chief said, including a Detroit case in which a jury found three men guilty of multiple charges in May.

Greater scrutiny

“The more forfeiture funds a department has, the closer they’ll get scrutinized,” he said.

John Lavinsky, a spokesman in the justice department’s inspector general’s office, confirmed an audit of the police department’s equitable sharing program activities. Drug forfeiture proceeds are distributed through the federal government’s equitable sharing program.

Lavinsky said he could not comment on the reasons for the audit, nor offer a timetable of when it would be completed, but did say the results will be available through the Department of Justice website.

Township Supervisor Richard Reaume said getting large amounts of drug forfeiture proceeds is new territory for the township, and that the township’s “single audit” of the fund for 2012 turned up reporting problems.

That, and a need for further guidance on how drug forfeiture money can and cannot be used, prompted the township to contact the justice department, he said.

“We sort of self-reported ourselves,” Reaume said. “We called the Department of Justice.”

Tiderington said involvement in the DEA task force has “been a great thing for us,” providing revenue that has paid for training, vehicles and equipment, including weapons, computers and a new emergency dispatch system.

“It’s really been a benefit to us and it’s been a benefit to the community,” he said.



Edited by bobandtorey
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There is far too little oversight on seizures.  The general public assumes that because they are the good guys, the police will do what's right.  That is a bad assumption, as we have seen repeatedly.


When the incentives are set up to motivate the police to take from the public in order to protect their own department, there will be abuse.  It is human nature to justify their actions for the 'good of the community'. 


It was one of those slippery slope issues that has confirmed the fears of opponents.  It all sounded like a good idea when the government was seizing mansions and jets from cartel kingpins so we sort of looked the other way as to the legality of the idea.  Now we are quite a ways down that slippery slope, and we are having trouble stopping the slide.

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