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Tennessee Cop “Robs” Out-Of-State Driver Of $22,000 After Traffic Stop

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Apparently, in the state of Tennessee it’s perfectly legal to commit what’s known as highway robbery. However, if you expect such acts to the the undertaking of the obvious shady criminal element riding a horse and dressed in black as were the bad guys of the wild west, you’re sorely mistaken. Unlike the days of old, today’s highway robber doesn’t ride a horse, nor is he dressed in black. In fact, comfort aside, it’s somewhat shocking to find out that today’s highway robbers, are people actually sworn to uphold and enforce the law here in the Volunteer State. And according to a month-long investigative report compiled by Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 about one year ago, it would seem that this has become an all too common practice:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A major NewsChannel 5 investigation has uncovered serious questions about Tennessee’s war on drugs. Among the questions: are some police agencies more concerned about making money off the drugs, than stopping them?

At the center of this months-long investigation are laws that let officers pull driver over looking for cash.  Those officers do not even have to file criminal charges against a person to take his/her money.

It turns out, those kind of stops are now happening almost every day in Middle Tennessee.

Speaking to then District Attorney General Kim Helper about these stops and seizures in her jurisdiction, when  asked if it was a way to make money, she responded, “Well, you know, when you say ‘make money,’ I guess it is a way for us to continue to fund our operations so that we can put an end to drug trafficking and the drug trade within this district.” So how are police officers able to trample one’s 4th Amendment right as it relates to search and seizures? Easy. Under the guise of the “war on drugs,” the state allows police to seize money simply based on the suspicion that it’s linked to drug trafficking. The troubling part about the application of said practice, is that even without an arrest, an individuals money can be seized.

I guess this gives credence to the notion that money has no owners, just spenders.

In 2010 report, Tennessee received a D-minus from the Washington-based Institute for Justice, on the state’s “civil forfeiture laws,” which makes the practice all legal. As pervasive as the practice, per the law, money can be seized just on reasonable and unreasonable suspicion of money “found” in traffic stops being linked to drug trafficking. As you can imagine, this has given police officers on patrol the incentive to become state sanctioned pirates as they target out-of-town tagged vehicles along the I-40 east-west corridor, in what’s iknown as “Policing For Profit“.

According to the the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Blog:

In Tennessee, the police can seize your car, take your money, take your personal property, take your home, sell these items and use the proceeds of that sale for their benefit without the person being found guilty of a crime. In fact, the police can seize and sell these items without even charging the owner with a crime. And worst of all, the laws in Tennessee promote this activity.

[…] So why do the police do this? Money, Money, Money. The State of Tennessee receives millions and millions of dollars each year from civil asset forfeiture. They are among the highest in the country on the percentage of proceeds that go to law enforcement. And while some states use this money for education and public works, Tennessee allows local law enforcement to spend this money on drug enforcement. If the local police did not need any more incentive, the local law enforcement agencies receive 100% of proceeds for their respective agency. They cannot spend it on their salaries, but they do spend it on their agency which continues to operate in large part due to the millions of dollars they bring in each year.

[…] Further proof that the police activity is based on the money, sources reveal that the police on Interstate 40 are pulling over vehicles on the westbound lane of the interstate at a much higher rate than on the eastbound lanes. This is because they believe that drugs go east and money goes west. So they are clearly following the money and not the drugs. Again, the police agency that seized the property keeps 100% of the proceeds!

It’s too bad that unsuspecting drivers from out-of-state like New Jersey’s George Reby, aren’t aware of this practice. As a matter of fact, up until I read Reby’s story, I myself as a state resident, was not aware of the practice; heck, and to think I’ve been living here for the past six years. However, I’d like to think that if Reby were in the know, he would not have been as trusting of Monteray PD Officer Larry Bates, with whom he had a chance meeting last January when stopped for speeding en route to Nashville on I-40, on a business trip.

Check out the following via, Nashville’s NewsChannel 5:

It’s very ironic that a bill aimed at “correcting” this practice was allowed to die in the last session of the Republican-run state gov’t.

But then again, maybe that’s just my “Liberal bias” creeping out as always. As pervasive and egregious this practice may sound, it is perfectly legal. aside from that, the main thing that keeps the practice alive and successful, is the ignorance of everyday citizens to their legal rights as afforded by the constitution. Police officers like Larry Bates above, count on us being ignorant about our 4th Amendment & 5th Amendment protections per the U.S. Constitution. I suggest you become aware of the fact that you do have the right to refuse to talk to the police without an attorney present, as well as the right to refuse or consent to a search of your property and person by the police without a proper warrant. Too often, not knowing your rights can become a hassle, and quite costly; but, like the old saying: knowing is half the battle.

QUESTION: Should law enforcement be allowed to carry out this practice?

 
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Written by:

Published on: May 15, 2012

Filled Under: Justice

Views: 1143

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

    Rippa, police have been allowed to take cash from citizens for a long time. If a cop believes that a person has too much cash on them, whatever that means, they can take their money.

    They are supposed to give a receipt to the citizen and then the citizen has to somehow prove that the money was gotten legally. This goes on all the time. The Feds do it too.

     
    • Uglyblackjohn

      Val, even worse that that – I’ve had cop friends jack people during stops for things they had that the cops knew I wanted.

       
      • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

        Aww man, now you know that ain’t right. LOL

         
      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

         Lmao!

         
    • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

      This is something I never knew. I always thought that they can only seize property and cash in drug related crimes. Of course I know there are “bad cops” who will jack a citizen — albeit and unscrupulous one — in a heartbeat. But I never knew they had the power to do that to “anybody” like that.

       
  • http://heavyarmor.wordpress.com/ Heavy Armor

    Rippa,

    The basic problem is that the police here (and elsewhere) are seizing this under Civil Forfeiture AND threat of arrest on Drug Trafficking, regardless of whether any actual drug transactions can be substantiated in a court of law.  Secondly, because it is a “civil forfeiture” and not a “criminal seizure,” those accused are thrown in a gauntlet of Proving One’s Innocence, Proving the Seized Assets are Not Drug-Related (Separate from the First), and Bringing a Civil Lawsuit Against the Parties in Question…After the first two are completed.

    This rot began during the War on (Some) Drugs rollout during the 1980s, when Prosecutors and Politicians began weaving tales of (Black & Latino) Drug “Kingpins” driving around in Luxury Cars, Living in Mansions, and able to afford the Most Expensive Defense Attorneys who could get cases thrown out on “Technicalities,” while they (the Police and the DAs) were being hamstrung with inferior equipment, outdated laws, and shoestring budgets.

    And while no one can really point to a high-profile case where these Drug Asset Forfeiture Laws have stemmed the tide against these so-called “Kingpins,” we see far too many cases of innocent citizens become victims of greed enforced by the law.

     
    • http://rippdemup.com/ RiPPa

      I think this is further proof that the alleged “war on drugs” is simply a money maker for “certain public officials” involved. 

       
  • Reggie

    Hell if I’d known that there was that much money in being a cop I’d have joined the force myself.

     
  • http://www.insaneasylumblog.com/ THE INSANE ASYLUM (MR. CHAP)

    Growing up, my mother always warned me to never have a lot of cash on me because the police will take it.