New Mexico Police Complain They Can No Longer Plunder the Public

When police complain about their budgets they are basically admitting they want to live by theft.

I wouldn’t be so harsh about this story if they were actually requesting increased funds. But how the New Mexico police complain certainly sounds like they are mainly lobbying to get back their old freedom to simply take stuff from others without having to convict anyone at trial, or even having to charge someone with a crime.

The story comes from the Four Corners News in New Mexico: “Civil forfeiture law protects public, cuts into law enforcement budgets.”

A state law intended to prevent police from seizing money or assets from people unless they’re convicted of a crime took effect this month, and law enforcement officials say it’s going to cut deeply into their budgets.

Before House Bill 560 became law, most police departments and other local law enforcement agencies in New Mexico could auction items they had seized and use the revenue to pay for training or equipment. That process funds a fourth of the Region II Narcotics Task Force’s operational finances each year — which was approximately $100,000, according to its director, Sgt. Kyle Dowdy.

So the Narcotics Task Force was raking in a hundred grand a year without charging or convicting anyone of a crime and this is treated as a reason why the law is bad?

[See also, “The Asset Forfeiture Police Station Shows Why Taxpayers Allow It.”]

This is very simple, either the New Mexico taxpayers want these law enforcement agencies funded or they do not. It is up to them. But the law enforcement agencies should not be 1) motivated to find suspicious activity because they hope to gain wealth from the suspect, or 2) empowered to confiscate property without taking the suspects to court and convicting them lawfully.

One possibility does make me worry, however. Dowdy is “considering asking the federal government for more money.” This is not something that New Mexico residents should want to happen. I have experience from a county nearby that Federal money comes with Federal conditions—such as road checkpoints for drunk drivers that harass vast numbers of drivers and hurt local businesses.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If law enforcement agencies became bloated on budgets that are bigger than New Mexico taxpayers are willing to support, then they need to be cut.