More on Police Culture
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