(c) 2015 Brenda Grantland
from Truth and Justice Blog, 2/2/2015, updated 10/15/2016
Attorney General Eric Holder’s Policy Order limiting a tiny aspect of the asset forfeiture program — federal adoption — is a hot topic in the news lately. In reality the policy change will not make a dent in federal adoptions because of the multi-jurisdictional task force exemption. A multi-jurisdictional task force is made up mostly of local and state cops, with a federal agent or two to give it that federal connection. See the DEA website page DEA Programs: State & Local Task Forces. Be sure to click on the interactive map on that page to see the multi-jurisdictional task forces operating in your state.
The Holder policy order was partially a clever ploy to appease those clamoring for forfeiture reform. It was also a Trojan horse because it encourages state and local police agencies to form multi-jurisdictional task forces with the federal government if they want to preserve their previously abundant Equitable Sharing revenue streams.
Task forces are governed by contract between participating police agencies. State and local police agencies are created and regulated by statutes and/or ordinances, and answer directly to the local or state government which created them, and the agency’s chain of command answers to the top official of the agency, with internal checks and balances to ensure that they enforce the law they were hired to enforce. The state or local legislature controls their purse strings and that is a big motivator to get them to obey the applicable state or local law.
The fact that the federal government could override that statutorily established chain of command, substituting federal law for the law of the state, county or city that hired them is questionable in itself. That state and local officers’ chain of command could be supplanted by a board of directors created by private contract between law enforcement agencies is a topic of grave concern that warrants discussion.
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