Before the story airs: WRAL Investigates: Why can police just take your stuff?
Posted January 27, 2015
Updated January 29, 2015
It’s been part of policing for years. You commit a crime, officers can take assets related to the crime – money, a car, a house. The value of those assets transferred from benefiting criminals to helping out crime fighters. It became an important funding tool for law enforcement in the midst of tight budgets.
In recent years, though, there’s been a national trend to seize assets without any criminal charges. Local, state and federal officers confiscated tens of millions of dollars in raids. Whether a crime was eventually proven or not, the odds that those assets were ever returned proved slim. It reached the point where the U.S. Attorney General just changed national policy to limit seizures and potential law enforcement abuse of the system.
On Thursday, WRAL Investigates examines civil forfeiture in North Carolina. See cases where officers took cash and property without filing any charges. There’s a chorus of complaints and legal challenges. We dig into just how much law enforcement agencies get from seizures, what they buy and how the assets are shared between local, state and federal departments.
You decide if the seizures are justified. WRAL Investigates Thursday at 5:30 p.m.