Cash is king in South Carolina. Law enforcement loves taking it. Under the pretense of dismantling drug syndicates, law enforcement officers are taking money from waitresses, businessmen, and crime victims. Cash motivates law enforcement efforts — dubious drug-focused shakedowns that are often given far too much credibility by local journalists.This is state where county sheriffs run week-long events with cool names like “Rolling Thunder” and claim they’re disrupting the flow of drugs. The reality is there’s no disruption. People are separated from their cash and other property, but arrests and convictions are almost impossible to find, despite the discovery of a few hundred pounds of illegal substances. In 2017, the Spartansburg County Sheriff’s Department pulled over more than 1,100 vehicles during an operation, searched 158 of them, recovered enough drugs to fill a table for a press conference, but only ended up with eight felony convictions. It did end up with $139,000 in cash, which was the actual focus of the “drug interdiction” activity.The cases gathered from elsewhere in the state tell the same story: cash-hungry law enforcement agencies taking money from people and calling it a victory in the War on Drugs. African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the state’s population, but 65 percent of asset forfeiture cases target African Americans. If you’re white, you’re not only targeted less frequently but you’re twice as likely to get your property returned to you.
To “pacify tensions” brought about by cops killing unarmed people, we’re instructing teens to become docile subhumans who should only respond to the presence of law enforcement in the manner law enforcement prefers. That’s the gist of the Community Safety Education Act Instructor’s Guide [PDF], which not only tells people to remain suitably cowed during traffic stops, but also gets the law wrong.The problems with the instruction manual (and the law… and required course itself…) begin at the beginning, in the “Tips for Educators.” The guide says instructors should remind students of their rights, as well as warn them that exercising them could get them killed.
Community members, cops, and parents in one South Carolina school district are all pushing back against two summer reading books they believe propagate anti-police feelings. The books, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, were on a list of four titles for students taking an English 1 College Prep course. Both books mentioned have received numerous awards and accolades, including the Coretta Scott King Honor.
I cannot imagine what it must be like as an appellate court judge to have to write these words (h/t Brad Heath):
“Construing the facts in the light most favorable to [Trey] Sims, a reasonable police officer would have known that attempting to obtain a photograph of a minor child’s erect penis, by ordering the child to masturbate in the presence of others, would unlawfully invade the child’s right of privacy under the Fourth Amendment.”
That’s just the latest in a long line of travesties committed by the Chicago PD. This follows other such lowlights as the PD operating its own Constitution-free “black site” inside the city, where criminal suspects were taken, detained, and interrogated with zero regard for their civil liberties. When Chicago police officers aren’t shooting people and lying about it, they’re participating in god knows what other sorts of misconduct after tampering with their recording devices.The reason it’s taken so long for anything to be done about this is a lack of accountability. Those up top feel no compunction to punish officers for misdeeds, often only following through when forced to by public outcry. When it does finally occur, it’s years after the fact and often reduced to wrist slap.
No job too small. That’s asset forfeiture for you. But small jobs are the safest jobs when it comes to the government keeping someone else’s property. Keeping the seizures small makes it less likely they’ll be challenged by those whose property was taken.The year-end totals may look impressive, but behind those totals are lots and lots of tiny cash grabs. In the cases where agencies’ forfeitures have been itemized and examined (which is a rarity — there’s a ton of opacity in forfeiture reporting), the largest number of forfeitures are for the smallest amounts, usually well under $1,000.Officers take what they can because they can. A video going viral on Twitter shows a California police officer rummaging through the wallet of an unlicensed street vendor and taking the vendor’s cash and debit card. A citation and a shutdown of the hot dog stand should have been enough. But it wasn’t. Officer Sean Aranas decided — with the only citation handed out during the football game — to take the man’s earnings.
Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida, spent most of Wednesday morning letting America know what an awful person he is. With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, Judd helpfully suggested sex offenders or those with outstanding warrants would be better off lashing themselves to a nearby tree rather than seeking shelter.