Under civil asset forfeiture, police can seize property suspected of involvement in criminal activity. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, with civil forfeiture, people don’t have to be convicted—or even charged—with a crime to permanently lose their cars, homes, or cash.
Even worse, in many cases, police get to keep what they seize through asset forfeiture. As long as cops get to keep what they seize, civil asset forfeiture will keep on spawning scandals.
So law enforcement has a strong incentive to pad their budgets and buy ridiculous things like:
14. $10,000 worth of Gatorade
It’s got electrolytes!
Thirsty cops in Pittsburgh spent $9,547 in cash on Gatorade during the 2009 G-20 Summit. (That same summit led to almost 200 arrests and hundreds of thousands in dollars in settlements for police violating protesters’ rights.) Pittsburgh police have also used asset forfeiture to pay for a carwash, and so an officer could become a certified debt reduction instructor.
13. A Zamboni
They see me rollin
A district attorney’s office spent almost $1,000 on a zamboni for a “drug diversion program” in Worcester County, Mass.