Policing For PEZ
January 6, 2016 (Fault Lines) — Chuck Canterbury, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police, recently opined at the Daily Caller that civil asset forfeiture was a necessary tool to fight crime and terrorism. He decried the term “policing for profit” as a “myth” based on anecdotal evidence spread by journalists who don’t understand how badly police need their war toys crime fighting cash tools for effective police work.
One can’t be upset with Canterbury. According to our resident prosecutor, civil asset forfeiture isn’t some monstrous program designed to take everything your Aunt Tammy owns. And law enforcement organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police have a vested interest in asset forfeiture so they can buy MRAPs along with life-saving Narcan. This program is simply vital to public safety!
Fortunately for Chuck, some of us insensitive defense lawyers started the new year with the goal of being nice to those who might not return the sentiment. It’s time for real, meaningful civil asset forfeiture reform, and it’s good Mr. Canterbury is willing to work with those who would work with law enforcement. Let’s start the year by throwing law enforcement a bone and place the PEZ company in charge of civil asset forfeiture.
This is no joke. The United States consumes over 3 billion bricks of the flavored candy each year. And the iconic dispensers are often collector’s items worthy of thousands of dollars, depending on rarity. It makes perfect sense to take a company that’s tapped into the American psyche and use their product for the public good.
Under the new “Policing for PEZ” program, cops utilizing civil asset forfeiture would retain any cash or profit for a period of one week. At the time any items or cash are seized, law enforcement would be required to give the person from whom items are taken a voucher with a list of items taken, the police station where the items or cash will be held, and the day when they can return with the voucher to receive their items.
Once the seven-day period begins, police will be required to submit paperwork to the PEZ company for reimbursement. The necessary information will contain the approximate value of the items or cash seized, and a written request to receive compensation from PEZ. On receipt of the paperwork, the PEZ company issues either the value in candy or a dispenser worth the amount.
Unfortunate parties subject to civil asset forfeiture get their property returned in seven days’ time. No muss, no fuss. Just show up at the police station with the initial voucher and you’ll have your property returned within one week. If you don’t feel comfortable going to the police station, send the agent of your choosing with a signed letter authorizing them to receive your property and police will hand over the goods.
This is a win-win scenario for all sides. First, police get the benefit of PEZ candy. During those night shifts where energy is desperately needed, the sugary candies will serve as a much needed wake-me-up. If money is necessary to purchase items like tasers or bean bag ammo, simply auction off the rare dispensers obtained under this new scheme on eBay for the proceeds.
For the average joe on the wrong side of law enforcement, there’s no horror stories of fighting endless court battles to get your property back. It’s a done deal in seven days’ time. If your encounter with law enforcement was less than satisfying, the only effort beyond giving someone else the voucher is printing and signing a letter. That’s a maximization of time and efficiency for the law-abiding public!
Finally, the PEZ company receives the distinction of being pro-police in a world where the public doesn’t understand why Blue Lives Matter. That’s a distinction most companies would bend over backwards to have. It’s an automatic endorsement by national law enforcement, which will undoubtedly drive up company sales. Who doesn’t like money?
Let’s take this moment to blow past Chuck Canterbury’s public gaffe and give law enforcement a much needed pass. It’s time to stop policing for profit, and start policing for that sweet, sweet PEZ.