A thief is a thief

Whether he wears a badge or not:

What Lanier portrays as crippling criminal enterprises appears to be equally targeted towards separating users from their next fix — or simply separating random “suspects” from whatever they happen to have in their wallets.

Since 2009, D.C. officers have made more than 12,000 seizures under city and federal laws, according to records and data obtained from the city by The Washington Post through the District’s open records law. Half of the more than $5.5 million in cash seizures were for $141 or less, with more than a thousand for less than $20.

Because the system is primed for abuse, legislation has been introduced that would overhaul the city’s asset forfeiture program, raising the threshold of proof needed to justify a seizure as well as forcing a majority of funds to be routed into the city’s general fund. Unsurprisingly, cops aren’t fans of the proposed legislation.

[T]he bill has been opposed by law enforcement officials, partly for the same reason other reform efforts across the country have been stymied: money. The officials also said it would create an administrative burden. In addition to tightening oversight and the rules for civil seizures, the District proposal would cut back on revenue.

No policeman who has ever participated in a civil asset forfeiture can be declared innocent of thievery. Nor is it correct to point the finger and blame politicians when the police themselves are actively lobbying against legislation that would place the burden of proof concerning the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the ownership of the individual’s property on the accuser rather than on the owner.

In their commendable respect for authority, conservatives often tend to forget that authority can be legitimate or illegitimate, as well as honest or corrupt. They also tend to ignore the fact that every single totalitarian and authoritarian state in history has had a police force which the people quickly learned to fear and hate. After all, one can hardly have a police state without police.

Like it or not, “law enforcement officials” are actively attempting to undermine the remnants of the Constitutional limits on policing the public in their own pecuniary interest. An extrapolation from the DC data indicates that around 2.9 million Americans who are accused of committing no crime other than carrying $150 dollars or less have been robbed by these police thieves; will the defenders of asset forfeiture attempt to evade the point by demanding to know why these individuals are in possession of such outrageous sums of money?

The decent, law-abiding police of yesteryear are simply not germane to the subject. They are retired or dead. The police of today do not wear the same uniforms, carry the same weapons, or operate under the same rules of engagement. One can no more exonerate the police of today by appealing to the behavior of the police of yesteryear than one can argue for the scientific precision of biology by appealing to the accuracy of physics.

It is not police critics like me who are traducing the reputations of the good policemen of the past. It is their corrupt and lawless successors who are doing so through their actions.