California Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, tried earlier this week to jump-start legislation that would force California police agencies to abide by more stringent state law when it comes to asset forfeiture -- the common use by police agencies to grab the assets of people suspected of being involved in a crime. Federal law offers fewer protections for property owners and allows government to keep more of the proceeds, so California agencies are concocting a revenue-sharing scheme with the feds to circumvent state law. This being California, the proposal is basically dead. George Will wrote about a similar situation in Massachusetts, where police are working with the feds to confiscate a $1.5 million motel because some of the guests are accused of dealing drugs. The problem with forfeiture is it marries the profit motive with police power, so agencies -- especially now as they struggle with tight budgets and pension debt -- engage in policing for profit rather than judges. Abuses are legion. Here is my latest column on this.
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