A little more information about the legalized theft of property by the police

Here’s an interesting factoid about contemporary policing: In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. Martin Armstrong pointed this out at his blog, Armstrong Economics, last week.

Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime — yes, really! — through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.

Armstrong claims that “the police are now taking more assets than the criminals,” but this isn’t exactly right: The FBI also tracks property losses from larceny and theft, in addition to plain ol’ burglary. If you add up all the property stolen in 2014, from burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and other means, you arrive at roughly $12.3 billion, according to the FBI. That’s more than double the federal asset forfeiture haul.

[In tough times, police start seizing a lot more stuff]

One other point: Those asset forfeiture deposit amounts are not necessarily the best indicator of a rise in the use of forfeiture. “In a given year, one or two high-dollar cases may produce unusually large amounts of money — with a portion going back to victims — thereby telling a noisy story of year-to-year activity levels,” the Institute for Justice explains. A big chunk of that 2014 deposit, for instance, was the $1.7 billion Bernie Madoff judgment, most of which flowed back to the victims.

For that reason, the net assets of the funds are usually seen as a more stable indicator — those numbers show how much money is left over in the funds each year after the federal government takes care of various obligations, like payments to victims. Since this number can reflect monies taken over multiple calendar years, it’s less comparable to the annual burglary statistics.

Still, even this more stable indicator hit $4.5 billion in 2014, according to the Institute for Justice — higher again than the burglary losses that year.

One final caveat is that these are only the federal totals and don’t reflect how much property is seized by state and local police each year. Reliable data for all 50 states is unavailable, but the Institute of Justice found that the total asset forfeiture haul for 14 states topped $250 million in 2013. The grand 50-state total would probably be much higher.

Still, boil down all the numbers and caveats above and you arrive at a simple fact: In the United States, in 2014, more cash and property transferred hands via civil asset forfeiture than via burglary. The total value of asset forfeitures was more than one-third of the total value of property stolen by criminals in 2014. That represents something of a sea change in the way police do business — and it’s prompting plenty of scrutiny of the practice.

Notice the part where it says no crime needs to be committed, we used to be presumed innocent until proven guilty…….

Policing for profit stopped and they are pissed about it…….


On Monday, following the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program announced that it would defer all equitable sharing payments for forfeitures, both civil and criminal, to state, local, and tribal partners for the foreseeable future. Following the DOJ’s announcement, the International Association of Chiefs of Police issued a statement, saying that the decision was “detrimental to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.”

Following these announcements, Lee McGrath, Legislative Counsel at the Institute for Justice, issued the following statement:

“Law enforcement revealed that its true interest in forfeiture is policing for profit—not public safety,” said Lee McGrath, Legislative Counsel for the Institute for Justice, in response to releases from the Department of Justice and International Association of Chiefs of Police.  “The recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act does not stop police and prosecutors from chasing criminals. They’re frustrated because Congress put on hold their chasing cash.”

“State legislators from Florida to Ohio to California should take notice of law enforcement’s reaction to the DOJ’s announcement” McGrath added.  “Many police, sheriffs and prosecutors want to circumvent state laws because outsourcing forfeiture litigation to the federal government is lucrative.  State lawmakers should enact an anti-circumvention provision that respects federalism and refocuses law enforcement’s attention on stopping crime by allowing only seizures greater than $50,000 to be forfeited under federal law.”

Losers of the day: Black Lies Matter protesters target Minneapolis airport

I guess the Idea is to piss off everybody and that somehow is a positive thing……..

Black Lives Matter protesters block traffic outside Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on December 23, 2015.

MINNEAPOLIS — A large protest that started at the Mall of America quickly migrated Wednesday to Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport, where demonstrators blocked roads and caused significant traffic delays.

Some Black Lives Matter protesters took a light-rail train to the airport in an attempt to “shut to down” after the nation’s largest mall was closed by police, CBS affiliate WCCO reported.

Groups of protesters gathered at both terminals around 2 p.m., blocking traffic on Highway 5 and the roads into both terminals. Not long after, the State Patrol ordered the protesters to disperse and cleared the highway.

Still, traffic into the state’s main airport was at a virtual standstill the day before Christmas Eve. Black Lives Matter Minneapolis tweeted that at least three people were arrested, one at the mall and two at the airport.

Hundreds of protesters left the nation’s largest mall shortly after a rally began Wednesday afternoon, chanting for justice for a black man recently shot by Minneapolis police.

Stores closed their gates, kiosks were covered and even Santa left his sleigh at massive suburban Minneapolis mall shortly before protesters gathered Wednesday afternoon, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. They abruptly walked outside while chanting, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”

Police quickly closed the mall’s main entrances and urged onlookers out of the mall’s central rotunda, threatening arrest.

Organizers said the rally was intended to draw attention to the police shooting last month of Jamar Clark. The 24-year-old black man died the day after he was shot by Minneapolis police responding to a recent assault complaint.

A similar demonstration last December drew hundreds of demonstrators angry over the absence of charges following the police killings of unarmed black men in New York City and Ferguson, Missouri. Stores in the mall had to close, and dozens of people were arrested.

The massive retail center in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington houses an amusement park and more than 500 shops spread across four floors, attracting shoppers from around the globe.

Neither mall officials nor Bloomington police said what security measures they put in place to prepare for the protest, though special event staff members were searching bags and stationed at every mall entrance. Security guards cordoned off parts of the central rotunda, and officers from several cities patrolled inside.

Dozens of stores had closed their gates shortly before the protest started.

The mall sought a court order blocking the planned protest. A judge on Tuesday barred three organizers from attending the demonstration, but said she doesn’t have the power to block unidentified protesters associated with Black Lives Matter — or the movement as a whole — from showing up.

Bloomington Police Deputy Chief Denis Otterness confirmed officers would be at the mall, but declined to discuss their plans for handling the protest.

“We’re just not releasing that at this point,” he said. “Our number one priority is the safety of everybody out at the Mall of America today.”

Gov. Mark Dayton also told reporters early Wednesday that 30 Minnesota State Patrol officers will be on scene at the local police department’s request. He said he sympathizes with protesters’ concerns, but he stressed that the mall is private property.

Kandace Montgomery, one of three organizers barred by the judge’s order, said the group isn’t deterred by the ban. She said she expected at least 700 people to show up — including some who were prepared to be arrested.

On one of the busiest shopping days of the year, Montgomery said the retail mecca is the perfect venue for their demonstration to pressure authorities involved in the investigation of Clark’s death to release video footage.

“When you disrupt their flow of capital… they actually start paying attention,” she said. “That’s the only way that they’ll hear us.”

Fucking idiots

Seriously kill yourself But not that awesome car……….

A 2012 red Mercedes-Benz convertible was recovered Wednesday after witnesses say they saw a man speeding down the south Skyway Fishing Pier before crashing through a concrete barrier and into Tampa Bay.

The first 911 call from a witness reported a red Mercedes-Benz drove off the south Skyway Fishing Pier at 2:08 p.m. It was soon followed by other calls, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

“We can confirm one fatality,” FHP trooper Kenn Watson said.

FHP public affairs officer Sgt. Steve Gaskins said the adult male driving the two-door Mercedes-Benz was from Eustis.

The area of the bay where the car submerged is in Hillsborough County and Troop C traffic homicide units will investigate, he said in a statement. Divers from St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue located the submerged vehicle, which has now been recovered along with the deceased driver still inside.

The North River Fire District, the U.S. Coast Guard, paramedics and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office also responded. Before officials blocked off the area with yellow crime-scene tape, more than two dozen people stood at the end of the pier where the vehicle had crashed through the barrier. Some stood beside first responders, peering down at the water.

Gaskins said it is unknown why the man drove the vehicle off the fishing pier. He couldn’t say if FHP believes it may have been a suicide.

“I can’t speculate on his decisions because he’s deceased,” he said. “What I can say for sure is that a motor vehicle in transit crashed into a body of water and the driver is deceased. That, by definition, makes it a traffic crash. I can’t say that’s what happened because, if he’s sitting in the car and all of a sudden has a heart attack and passes out. … that’s a medically induced traffic crash.”

Paul Robicheau, 61, was fishing at the pier with a friend when he said a “smartly dressed” man in his 40s parked the Mercedes in front of Robicheau’s 1990 Lincoln Mark VII LSC.

The Parrish resident described the man as “GQ clean.”

The driver got out of his car to smoke a cigarette, Robicheau said.

“He walked over to the wall. Didn’t pay no attention,” he recalled.

According to Robicheau, the man then drove back nearly to the fishing pier gate and turned around.

“Next thing you know, I’m standing here fishing,” he said. “I heard the scream of that engine. I jumped out a little bit to tell that guy to slow down.”

Robicheau said the Mercedes was speeding almost 100 mph before striking the pier wall.

“Totally plowed right into the wall, collapsed that car … collapsed it,” Robicheau said.

The wind whipped Robicheau’s hair as he shook his head in disbelief.

“Unbelievable. … guy was clean, sharp, nice dressed, beautiful dressed, clean,” he said. “Unbelievable, unbelievable.”

[More photos]

Mike Munro, 28, was fishing at the wall moments before the crash. The Orlando resident said he noticed the man approach and turn back.

“I just heard the motor of the car screaming and I thought: ‘Something wasn’t right.’ So I turned around and looked around the corner and he was only like probably 200 feet away from me going close to 100 miles per hour,” Munro said as he sat on a low platform at the pier.

Munro said he jumped out of the way, heard a big boom and by the time he turned around, the car was already submerged.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” Munro added.

Nearby, Bennie Sanders, 73, and his wife, Carol Sanders, 71, observed the chaos from behind crime scene tape. The couple said they drove from their home in North Port to check out “fishing possibilities” at the pier. They couldn’t leave immediately because their truck was parked close to the crash.

“I would process what happened as a suicide,” Bennie said as he looked over at the sea of first responders. “An absolute meant-to-kill-himself suicide.”

His wife nodded her head in agreement.

“I’m just sorry this happened,” she said.

“It’s a shame,” Bennie said. “This time of year, especially, it’s a shame that somebody would feel it necessary to do that. … if, in fact, that’s what he did.”

The Mercedes was later pulled out of the water by a towing truck and placed at the end of the pier. Officials then placed a yellow sheet on the left side of the vehicle where the driver was sitting.


Follow up to school lunchroom worker being fired…….

Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad weighed in Wednesday afternoon on the controversial recent firing of local lunch lady Dalene Bowden.

By that night Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 announced that it has offered to reinstate Bowden at Irving Middle School.

Bowden was fired last week after she gave a free lunch to a 12-year-old girl who didn’t have any money. Bowden offered to pay for the $1.70 lunch. But her supervisor refused and she was placed on leave and then fired two days later.

A registered letter informed Bowden that her employment with the district was terminated due to her theft of school district property. The one-page letter was signed by District 25 Human Resource Director Susan Pettit.

After a national backlash on social media and international news coverage, District 25 issued a press release around 9 p.m. Wednesday offering Bowden her job back.

However, by 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Bowden said she hadn’t personally heard from the school district. She said that while she loved her job, she’s anxious and confused about her reinstatement.

“I have to think about it,” Bowden said. “I’m afraid that they would just make my life miserable and then try to set me up, or get rid of me some other way.”

Blad met with Interim District 25 Superintendent Doug Howell Wednesday afternoon and discussed the impact the firing had on the city.

“It’s not like me to tell anybody else how to manage their business unless it’s affecting my business and in this case, it was,” Blad said. “The city received dozens of phone calls, and our Facebook and Twitter pages were blowing up about the firing.”

A press release issued by city officials Wednesday stated that Bowden’s firing and her subsequent reinstatement were handled by Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 officials and no elected city officials or city employees were involved in the decision-making process.

Blad said the district does not bear all the blame, but it’s gotten the brunt of it.

“I wish the district would have come out in front of all of this and let people know why they did what they did,” Blad said. “They know that this is a serious issue and this is not what Pocatello is about.”

In a press release Wednesday night, Howell said that state law prohibits school officials from discussing personnel matters. But he said that the district has never taken action against an employee for a single incident.

However, Bowden said she’s worked for District 25 for the past three years and she’s never been written up or reprimanded on the job. But she said she did receive a verbal warning once for giving a student a free cookie.

Howell said about 6,500 children in District 25 receive reduced or free hot lunches daily. That’s about 53 percent of all students in D-25.

“Our District focuses on the success of every student and recognizes nutrition is an important part of each student’s education and learning,” Howell said in the press release. “In addition to the Federal Service Program, the District works directly with the Pocatello office of the Idaho Food Bank and receives and distributes 1,000 packs of food each month to our students.”

The superintendent said the federal food service program is strictly regulated and federal funds for the program are jeopardized if procedures aren’t followed closely.

Howell said the school districts appreciate the role of food service workers and the relationships that they build with students. And he said effort will be put into making sure that workers can direct students who struggle to the proper resources.

“In the spirit of the holidays, the District has been in communication with Ms. Bowden extending an opportunity for her to return to employment with the District,” Howell said.

Bowden’s story went viral after it appeared in the Journal last week.

As of Wednesday, Bowden’s story had been picked up by the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom, Fox News, NBC News, “Inside Edition,” TV stations nationwide, Glen Beck’s network, The Blaze, and media throughout Idaho. The story was also the No. 1 trending story on Facebook nationwide on Wednesday afternoon.

As of Wednesday night, more than 71,000 people had signed an online petition asking that Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 reinstate Bowden.

A gofundme.com account raised more than $12,300 to help Bowden fund action against the district. An anonymous donor contributed $500 and asked Bowden to set up a fund for students in District 25 who can’t afford to pay for their lunch.

“There really are a lot of really good people out there,” Bowden said. “I know that and I am just overwhelmed by the response.”

Bowden said she plans to challenge the district’s policy, and while she admits that she broke the rules, Bowden said she would most likely do it again.

“What are you supposed to do when the kid tells you they’re hungry and they don’t have any money,” Bowden said. “We’re supposed to take the tray away and dump it, right there in front of them, and I couldn’t do that.”

Last week, District 25 Public Information Officer Shelley Allen said that students who exceed an $11 lunch charge-limit are provided a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and milk. Parents are notified once the lunch bill reaches the $11 cutoff.

Ironically, the girl Bowden gave the free lunch to was within her $11 limit, but didn’t know that and was too afraid and embarrassed to ask about her account balance.

“That’s probably why she came to me. The kids love me and I love them too, the whole thing hurts my heart,” Bowden said.


U.S. tweaks airport screening rules

The AAA estimates that more than 100 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles over Christmas and New Year’s for the first time.

Most holiday travelers will be driving this year, but heightened airport security measures may cause inconvenience for the nearly 6 million who are expected to get on an airplane. In light of the Paris attacks, the TSA is changing its passenger screening protocols regarding airport body scanners, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues.

The Department of Homeland Security quietly made these changes last week.

DHS officials wrote in a document that the TSA was updating “the ability of individuals to opt-out of AIR (Advanced Imaging Technology) screening in favor of physical screening.” This now clears the way for the TSA to “direct mandatory body scanner screening for some passengers as warranted by security considerations.”

Over the years, the technology has evolved. Those body scanners that some critics labeled “virtual strip searches” are gone in favor of machines which replace an individual’s image with that of a generic figure. Officials believe this lessens privacy concerns.

Airport security has been under the microscope. Over the summer, a scathing DHS Inspector General report uncovered major gaps. Investigators discovered that 95 percent of the time, they were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints – in some cases, cruising through TSA pat-downs.

It led to a security overhaul that DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson talked about again just last week.

“In July, I gave the new administrator at TSA a 10-point plan for improving aviation security and airport screening domestically,” Johnson said. “That plan has been and is being implemented on schedule.”

The body scanning machines are extremely sensitive. Experts say they can pick up something like a handkerchief tucked in the pocket. But most importantly, they can detect non-metallic explosives, which is what officials say terrorists are trying to smuggle on planes.