At the White House earlier this week President Trump joked about destroying the career of a Texas state senator who proposed a bill to end the practice of seizing peoples’ property without any sort of due process or even charging them with a crime.
Trump, who was meeting with sheriffs from across the nation, asked if anyone wished to “make a statement as to how we can bring about law enforcement in a very good civil lovely way, but we have to stop crime, right?”
Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, Texas, complained that an unnamed state senator was trying to push through legislation requiring a conviction before taking people’s property.
Trump responded by saying, “Can you believe that?”
Eavenson went on to say, “I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation passed.”
Trump asked, “Do you want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career.”
Other law enforcement representatives laughed in response.
Between 2001 and 2014 police seized $2.5 billion from individuals who were not subject to a warrant or charged with any crime. In return, police received $1.7 billion of those seizures.
Policing for profit is an enormous issue in this country, and state laws governing the circumstances in which police can seize property are routinely skirted under the federal Equitable Sharing Program, which allows local police forces to claim that seizures fell under federal jurisdiction. In exchange for making that claim, law enforcement agencies can keep up to 80% of the seized property while the federal government takes a 20% cut.
The state senator in question, Konni Burton (R-Fort Worth), submitted a bill that, if passed, will reform Texas law by requiring a criminal conviction before the state is allowed to seize assets. Currently, Texas can seize assets of people who are never arrested, let alone found guilty, of a criminal infraction. Additionally, the bill would prohibit law enforcement agencies from retaining the proceeds of seized property and will block local authorities from working around the law through the Equitable Sharing Program.
Content created by the Stonegait Institute is available without charge to any eligible publisher that can provide a substantial audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact Joe@StonegaitInstitute.org. Click on this link to support the Institute’s efforts.