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by Peter Moskos

August 27, 2009

Here's the to 4th Amendment

"One of the reasons we fought a bloody war against Britain was we didn't like these soldiers stopping people on the street willy-nilly....We went to armed revolution against the strongest nation in the world in order to have these protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. They're not technicalities. They're real.
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Indeed, the ability to seize a person's private property is among the most awesome powers a government can wield. The authors of the Constitution cemented that notion in the Bill of Rights, decreeing in the Fourth Amendment that our right against unreasonable search and seizure "shall not be violated."

This afternoon, a joint legislative panel will convene at the Capitol to review a pair of reports that say some officers of the now-defunct Metro Gang Strike Force committed behavior that was "shocking" and listed a litany of abuses.
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One issue legislators must wrestle with is fundamental: Was the gang task force a good idea badly executed by dishonest cops and supervisors who looked the other way, or was the whole concept — including the state's administrative forfeiture law — fatally flawed?
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By the time lawmakers re-created the elite unit as the Metro Gang Strike Force in 2005, it had become largely self-funding, through seizures and forfeitures. The more money and property the cops from the unit's member agencies seized, the more fiscally sound the unit was.

Not only did it put the profit motive in police work, the cops came to look at seizures as the key to the unit's survival, the Luger report said.

It is definitely worth reading David Hanners' entire article in the Pioneer Press. It's a good piece of journalism

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