For the egregious crime of being in the right lane at the wrong time, a driver was pulled over in Lowndes County, Georgia. Thanks to the heroic efforts of one Georgia State Police dog, and his faithful officer, a major threat to the people of Georgia is off the streets.
The responding police dog, Brutus, made a major bust. The vehicle was transporting $36,000 of cash; an imminent danger to Georgians across the state.
The cash may have eluded officers if not for the quick thinking of Brutus. He sat down next to the car to let officers know the money was being stored in a speaker inside the vehicle. The officer was quick to confiscate the cash, take a picture of it for social media, and let the driver go.
Wait, the police let the driver get away? Yes, they did. The driver was not charged an actual crime, and no one was arrested during the "major bust" that took place. The driver's only crime was carrying cash.
Under Georgia's criminal code officers can take property from any citizen they suspect may be part of a criminal enterprise. In this case, the only hunch officers had of criminal activity was Brutus the dog taking a seat.
The police took more than half of the state's median yearly income from someone because a dog sat next to their car. If you think this is a horrific injustice, you should feel relieved to know the overwhelming majority of Americans agree with you.
Civil asset forfeiture is the formal name for this form of state sanctioned theft. It has become a hot topic in the last few years for Americans concerned about their fundamental rights. The practice is troublingly common among law enforcement agencies at all levels of government.
Its history of abuse has resulted in BILLIONS of dollars taken from Americans who were never charged with a crime. While marginalized groups are the most likely victims, anyone can be targeted. From entrepreneurs and small business owners to Christian music groups, law enforcement agencies only see dollar signs.
A growing number of states have implemented forfeiture reforms aimed at holding police agencies accountable. They aim to protect citizen's right to due process supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution. Unfortunately for this driver, and the rest of the country, state laws may soon be futile. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced a federal policy to ignore state statutes prohibiting civil asset forfeiture.