This is a classic asset forfeiture abuse case:
- Waitress, known to be in a financial bind, is tipped $12,000 via cash in take-out box given to her by a stranger.
- Waitress takes the cash to police.
- Cops confiscate it because their drug dog conveniently alerted to pot smell on the box, therefore the cash is seized under asset forfeiture provisions.
- Waitress goes public; cops offer her $1,000 “reward”. Waitress turns down the reward and sues.
- Eventually, PD recognizes the massive PR blunder and unwelcome attention and decides to return the money to her.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the box never smelled of pot, and that if a drug dog ever came close to it, it was prompted by the handler to alert. The fact that they offered her a thousand bucks to shut her up just reinforces that opinion—“finder’s rewards” for asset forfeiture drug money are unprecedented. They saw $12,000 in a box, and decided that OF COURSE it had to be drug money, and don’t we need a new light bar for unit 244?
How’s that War on Drugs coming, America? This kind of stuff happens too often to report. It has turned otherwise law-abiding people—the ones you want on your side, Thin Blue Line—into distrustful adversaries, and cops into something regarded not unlike an occupying army by a lot of people. (What kind of lesson have you taught that waitress and her family, and what kind of attitude will they have toward the police for the rest of their lives? Do you think they’ll ever report anything to you again?)
Asset forfeiture is evil. It was intended to strip assets from drug kingpins, but like RICO, it has been expanded to fit the needs and desires of the state, and now it’s the default position of LE that if you carry more than an average amount of cash on you, it must be drug-related. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that giving the cops a financial incentive to seize property is a very bad idea.
Sadly, nothing’s going to change any time soon, because a.) the War on Drugs is great business for the State at all levels, and because b.) if you oppose that kind of nonsense, you’re clearly a pot-smoking libertarian who’s fine with people driving down the road snorting lines of coke off the dashboard.
And in the meantime, drugs are cheaper and more readily available than ever, our cops dress and arm like the 1st Marines about to invade Iran, and public trust in law enforcement is down the shitter. Getting the government to declare a war on something is a perfect recipe to have that something in abundance a few years later, and yet another edge of the Constitution lit on fire as the new Something Enforcement Agency employs 100,000 and sucks down a few billion in cash every year to keep the racket going.
But hey—legalizing pot would send the wrong message.