Permitted Uses for Drug Funds
Contrary to the Sheriff's
comments, drug seizure money may be used for a wide range of purposes to
benefit the taxpayers. These purposes are listed below in an excerpt from the
U.S. Department of Treasury's Guide to Equitable Sharing for Foreign
Countries and Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies
detailing the uses of forfeited money and property.
B. Uses of Shared Cash or Proceeds of Forfeited Property
Permissible Uses: Subject to laws, rules,
regulations, and orders of the state or local jurisdiction governing the use
of public funds available for law enforcement purposes, the following
expenses are pre-approved as permissible uses of shared funds and property.
Calculated to Enhance Future Investigations -- The support of
investigations and operations that may result in further seizures and
forfeitures, e.g., payments to informants; "buy",
"flash", or reward money; and the purchase of evidence.
Enforcement Training -- The training of investigators,
prosecutors, and law enforcement support personnel in any area that is
necessary to perform official law enforcement duties. Some examples of
such training are the following: (1) asset forfeiture in general
(statutory requirements, policies, procedures, caselaw); (2) the Fourth
Amendment (search and seizure, probable cause, drafting affidavits,
confidential informant reliability); (3) ethics and the National Code of
Professional Conduct for Asset Forfeiture; (4) due process rights; (5)
protecting the rights of innocent third-parties (individuals and
lienholders); (6) use of computers or other equipment used in or in
support of law enforcement duties. The payment of college
tuition, hospitality suites at conferences, and other indirect training
expenses are not allowed.
Enforcement Equipment and Operations -- The purchase of body
armor, firearms, radios, cellular telephones, computer equipment,
software to be used in support of law enforcement purposes, vehicles
(e.g., patrol vehicles, surveillance vehicles), electronic surveillance
equipment, uniforms, travel, transportation, supplies, leasing of office
and other space for task force and undercover operations, and leasing or
purchase of other types of equipment that support law enforcement
activities. Forensic labs and equipment and related training and
certification expenses are permissible.
Facilities -- The costs associated with construction,
expansion, improvement, or operation of detention facilities managed by
the recipient agency.
Enforcement Facilities and Equipment -- The costs associated
with basic and necessary facilities, their construction, updating,
remodeling, furniture, safes, file cabinets, telecommunications
equipment, etc., that are necessary to perform official law enforcement
- Drug Education
and Awareness Programs -- The costs associated with conducting
drug education and awareness programs by law enforcement agencies.
- Pro Rata
Funding -- The costs associated with supporting multi-agency
items or facilities. Example: A town purchases a new
computerized payroll system; the police department payroll represents
twenty percent of the total use of the payroll system. The police
department may use shared money to fund its pro rata share (twenty
percent) of the operating and maintenance expenses of the system.
Accounting and Tracking -- The costs associated with the
accounting, auditing, and tracking of revenues and expenditures of
equitable shared cash, proceeds, and tangible property.
-- Many of the costs of the activities described above could entail the
payment of salaries of the personnel involved. Due to the extreme
sensitivity of asset forfeiture work, the payment of salaries of
sworn law enforcement officers is limited to the following
- The first year's
salaries only for new law enforcement officers that supplement
appointments that do not exceed one year.
- Salaries of officers
assigned to non-traditional positions in approved specialized programs
which do not generally involve traditional law enforcement functions
such as DARE officers.
- Payments expressly
authorized by law, such as the Community Oriented Policing Services
(COPS) program established by the Violent Crime Control and Law
Enforcement Act of 1994, which expressly permits state and local law
enforcement agencies to use equitably shared asset forfeiture funds to
meet the local match requirements of that program.
- Salaries of sworn
law enforcement officers hired to replace officers assigned to a
federal task force. A law enforcement agency may expend equitably
shared funds to pay the salaries of replacement officers for the life
of the task force and up to six months after the task force has
The above expenses are not meant to be all
inclusive and other expenses may be permissible. Guidance from the Treasury
Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture must be sought for any proposed use of
shared cash or proceeds that could be questioned as to its law enforcement purpose.
NOTE: The fact that the shared property was forfeited as a result of a
particular federal violation does not limit its use. For example, when an
agency receives a share of property that was forfeited for a federal drug
violation, the shared property does not have to be used in a department's
drug program. Priority consideration should be given, however, to completely
equipping units that generate forfeitures in order to foster future
Citizens for Better Government -