Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“But where says some is the king of America? I'll tell you friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the royal brute of Britain. ... so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king.”     Thomas Paine,    Common Sense, January, 1776

January 21, 2007

More on Police Culture

by Adam Selene

In yet another clear sign that the Drug War’s most prominent success has been the corruption of police culture in this country, we have this story in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Police Department is accused of taking possession of a Mercedes-Benz convertible from a drug-addicted local businessman in return for agreeing not to prosecute him for cocaine possession.

So, in Milwaukee rich folks can trade an expensive car for having criminal charges dropped? That hardly sounds like Rule of Law to me. Wisconsin law does not provide for forfeiture of vehicles in cases of simple possession. Even if it did, normally forfeiture laws and criminal charges are separate issues and you can’t just forfeit a vehicle, or other property, to get the criminal charges dropped. It turns out that wasn’t all the police decided was appropriate for this guy.

Maistelman [ed: the Beck family's attorney] also cited the family’s belief that police contributed to Beck’s death by threatening to disclose his drug activity.

“At the time of Jordan’s arrest he was in a custody battle with his wife for his minor children. Subsequent to his arrest Jordan and his family were bombarded with threats by your office and or the Milwaukee Police Department that unless he gave his car up, then the authorities would contact his wife’s attorney and ‘rat him out’ about his drug offense.”

Maistelman also wrote that a member of Beck’s family had witnessed “harassing, intimidating and coercive telephone calls” and that authorities also threatened that if he didn’t give up the car, “they would tell certain drug dealers that Jordan and his family were informants, when in fact they were not.”

Remember, as you are reading this, that Mr. Beck was a drug user, not a dealer. He was facing charges for possession, not dealing. He was not a criminal, he was a drug addict. But, he had something the police coveted. An expensive car, worth $100,000, give or take.

We have taught our police departments that taking property if someone is a drug user is okay. They are simply doing something that we have condoned. We have given them power, and they have abused it, as was predictable.

h/t: Radley Balko

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3 Comments

  1. The scary thing about all this is that I’m not at all surprised…

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — January 21, 2007 @ 3:05 pm
  2. That’s what worries me. Folks like you and I aren’t surprised. And many people seem to see stuff like this as a side effect of a necessary war on drugs. Others aren’t outraged when they would have been 20 years ago. Frightening.

    Comment by Adam Selene — January 21, 2007 @ 3:59 pm
  3. Amateurs. During Katrina, the New Orleans Police Department took a break from looting shoe stores, Wal-Marts, and other businesses to clean out a Cadillac dealership. Then New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass even rode around in one of the stolen Cadillacs.

    Comment by Kevin — January 21, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

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