Police Chief Will Detail How Department Spends Funds Received from Asset Seizures

Published : Monday, April 15, 2019 | 4:44 AM

Pasadena Police Chief John Perez will tell a City committee this week how Pasadena police spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past four years received as the Department’s share of asset forfeiture funds shared by federal agencies with local law enforcement.

Asset forfeiture occurs when a government agency such as the Drug Enforcement Agency takes property obtained from or used in illegal activity. Local agencies can receive a share equal the extent of their involvement in the case.

The asset forfeiture funds can be used by local police for a wide variety of crime-fighting purposes.

Pasadena police have, over the past two years, spent some of their funds on lease payments for undercover vehicles, surveillance equipment, monthly charges for electronic surveillance, training munitions, and training for narcotics investigators and the K-9, Perez will tell the Public Safety Committee on Wednesday.

Funds were also used to purchase operational equipment and tactical vests, a new narcotics dog, and weapons and related equipment.

The Department also used the funds to pay for capital improvements.

A transfer of $537,500 to the City’s Capital Improvement Program was made to pay for a replacement to the department’s Jail Access Control and Monitoring System, a $40,000 transfer upgraded mobile digital computers, $100,000 was used for a “building security management project, and $80,000 was spent the police indoor firing range, Perez will report.

This fiscal year’s collections jumped significantly to $788,089 from the $28,929 it collected from forfeitures in all of fiscal year 2018. In 2017, the Department received $154,165 from asset forfeitures.

A police spokesman said the complex formula which yields to payouts did not directly tie the large increase to any single major case he could name.

“These funds come to us in different ways via equitable sharing and could easily fluctuate on a case-by-case basis, spreading out over years,” says Pasadena Police Department spokesman Lieutenant Jason Clawson.

In other words, the money that has come in for 2019 could be related to cases from two or three years ago.

The practice of civil forfeiture is not a hit with every American. City Councilmember John Kennedy, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, said in a March interview that he originally requested a report on asset forfeiture at the prodding ACLU of Southern California Pasadena-Foothills Chapter Board Member Kris Ockershauser during earlier committee meetings.

“I’ve been complaining about it for years,” Ockershauser told Pasadena Now.

Also on Wednesday, Perez is scheduled to give his Monthly Report to the Public Safety Committee, the agenda showed.

His report will include significant accomplishments by the department, organizational developments, the results of community outreach projects, and major crime statistics over the last month.

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