FARMINGTON NM – With the ink barely dry on a law signed by Republican Governor Susana Martinez preventing law enforcement from stealing money and seizing assets from the citizenry unless they’re actually convicted of a crime, police around the state are up-in-arms about how it’s cutting into their budgets.
Without the House Bill 560 in place, most police departments and other law enforcement agencies within the state of New Mexico were gaining revenue by auctioning off property that they stole from people and claimed to use the money to fund training and equipment. Sgt. Kyle Dowdy of the Region 2 Narcotics Task Force whimpered that these thefts fund about a quarter of their operational finances each year which is calculated at about $100,000.
BTR: Questions must be asked. Just who bought these stolen items?
Below the lines of the new law, property appropriated is to be held for ransom in storage facilities and then shipped to the state Treasurer’s Office in Santa Fe, with all the revenue to be deposited into the state’s general fund. Plus these agencies will not be reimbursed for the storage or shipping costs of the captured inventory. These expenses, the Farmington Police Department has to endure have not yet been calculated. This is an unfunded mandate cried Chief Steve Hebbe, the Chief continued by saying “We’re going to try not to seize.”
BTR: The State now wants in on the action?
This new legislation blocks law enforcement from seizing someone’s property when they’re arrested without proving they committed a crime, a strong-arm tactic that was legal before. It brings up the philosophical question, says State Rep. Rod Montoya, a Republican representing Farmington:
“Should people’s property be seized and potentially even sold without there being a trial and proof of guilt?” Montoya’s answer is a definite “NO” and this new law shields the citizens from such seizures, he said.
BTR: This law is just because Law Enforcement has abused confiscation laws.
Representative Montoya, a freshmen legislator who stated law enforcement issues as his main focus says lawmakers were not aware of HB560’s negative impacts until later on the process. Not one law enforcement official testified in the House. And according to Sen. Steve Neville a Republican from Aztec, he couldn’t recall if any spoke before the Senate.
BTR: Maybe they were too busy stealing and counting the money.
Chief Hebbe complained that no police chiefs were even asked or notified about the potential impact of the bill, so none gave testimony. “I don’t think that they anticipated how much it’s going to hit local law enforcement, and we’re still trying to figure out how bad it’s going to hit us.” Funny how ignorance of the law in this instance is being turned around on them.
BTR: This needs to happen across the Nation because of the abuses. Waco is the perfect example.
Giving in to the out-cry Rep. Montoya is now saying that he wants to speak with law enforcement officials to find a solution to their revenue problems, but the essence of the law and protecting the public will have to be priority. “If this is going to affect them this adversely, we need to take a look at it,” he said. “I’m not suggesting repeal.”
BTR: No repeal! We should not turn our law enforcement into thieves.
Region II’s Sgt. Dowdy chimed in again and whined that this new law sucks money from local law enforcement and presents conflicting and difficult demands.
BTR: No, it sucks money and properties from the innocent who cannot defend themselves from an out of control system.
Dowdy will have to figure out how to compensate his region due to his inability to steal money from the public. So now he’s thinking hard about begging the federal government for more cash. He’ll probably have to stand in the long line of federal hand-outs because all the other law enforcement agencies in the state will be camping out in the same line. Dowdy will have to ask already cash-strapped local police departments like Aztec and Bloomfield for some money.
BTR: All police agencies have become whores for government monies and military style equipment. They're like all government agencies they want more more more.
Dowdy is saying that his task force will have to cut-down on the amount of equipment it buys, specifically police state items like: surveillance cameras, wiretaps, and other authoritarian tools, and will have to reduce training. The training, he says, is very important in apprehending victims of the failed drug war who are regularly upgrading the methods they use to distribute drugs.
BTR: A lot of police training is like a weekend at Bernie's. Just an excuse to get out of town on the tax payers dime.
This citizen protection bill is also said to complicate his relationship with the federal government, which previously guarantees that property the task force steals, such as vehicles and homes are allowed to be kept and utilized for law-enforcement purposes. Now these items will be liquidated later and all the money from those sales going straight the state’s general fund.
BTR: We've seen enough to know Law Enforcement and crooked DA's can no longer be trusted. They are as corrupt as the people they put in jail if not sometimes worse.
Sgt. Dowdy bemoans “On one hand, you’ll have to break the state law, and on the other, you’ll have to break a federal mandate, and neither one of them you want to do.” So if this results in less drug busts and less people sent to live in prisons for harmless plants, then it’s a partial victory. The only other outcome I see is a spiteful increase in the traffic enforcement division to steal money from people another way, Look Out!
BTR: This a good development and a possible road map we can use when we go political on their ass. As we've seen in Waco they will lie, cheat and kill to have their way.