Pubdate: Tue, 23 Dec 2008
Source: Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN)
Copyright: 2008 Post-Bulletin Company, LLC
Author: Heather J. Carlson
Cited: 2007 Criminal Forfeiture Report (PDF):
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


At a time when the state's budget deficit has dominated the news, some
area law enforcement agencies are seeing a welcome boost in funds from
forfeited guns, cars and cash, according to a state auditor's report.

The report, released on Monday, says the Southeast Minnesota Drug Task
Force saw net proceeds from forfeited property more than double between
2006 to 2007, climbing to more than $184,000.

The task force, a collaboration of local law enforcement that covers eight
counties in southeast Minnesota, ranked third in the state for the most
forfeiture incidents with 293. First place went to the Minneapolis Police
Department with 1,186, followed by the Minnesota State Patrol with 460.
The Rochester Police Department also enjoyed a forfeiture boom with more
than $46,000 in net proceeds from seized property and cash.

Dodge County Sheriff Gary Thompson said he is not surprised by the local
drug task force's success. His agency is part of the task force.

"We're a fairly large task force geographically in comparison to some
others. Our investigators are very active," Thompson said. "We've
consistently been among the top producing task forces in the state."

The success of local agencies follows a statewide trend. Between 2006 and
2007, the net proceeds from criminal forfeitures grew by more than 25
percent, reaching $4.3 million.

"The sharp increase in net proceeds is due to the substantial increase in
the number and value of cash forfeitures," State Auditor Rebecca Otto
said. Unlike cars or guns, cash seizures generally result in less
administrative costs.

Local law enforcement agencies get to keep 70 percent of the net
forfeiture proceeds. Another 20 percent goes to the prosecuting agency and
10 percent goes into the state's general fund. These figures do not
include drunken driving-related forfeitures.

Rochester police left the task force in 2006. As a result, the state's
forfeiture numbers show a huge jump between 2006 to 2007 for the police
department. But much of that jump can be attributed to Rochester beginning
to keep track of its own narcotics seizures, Deputy Police Chief Steven
Johnston said. The department had nearly $18,000 in net forfeiture
proceeds in 2006.

So far this year, the department has collected more than $32,000 in
revenue from narcotics-related seizures, Johnston said.
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