Citizens for Better Government


Blount County Tennessee


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.

  1. Activities 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.
  2. Law 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.
  3. Law 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.
  4. Detention Facilities -- The costs associated with construction, expansion, improvement, or operation of detention facilities managed by the recipient agency.
  5. Law 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 duties.
  6. Drug Education and Awareness Programs -- The costs associated with conducting drug education and awareness programs by law enforcement agencies.
  7. 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.
  8. Asset Accounting and Tracking -- The costs associated with the accounting, auditing, and tracking of revenues and expenditures of equitable shared cash, proceeds, and tangible property.
  9. Salaries -- 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 categories:
    • Overtime.
    • The first year's salaries only for new law enforcement officers that supplement the workforce.
    • Contractual 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 disbanded.

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 forfeiture investigations.


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