Denver PD Caught Stealing People’s Assets, Using Them to Pay for Massive Propaganda Campaign

GOOD-Cops-MainBy Justin Gardner

A couple of years ago, the Denver Police Department (DPD) was under fire for a spate of excessive force complaints. They wanted to change their image, so they began a massive public relations campaign, ramping up spending from $599 in 2011 to $136,783 in 2013.

The “media affairs unit” is made up of very well-paid employees who push their message in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Last year the DPD spent $450,000 on six employees in the media team, which is far more than six cops on the beat would make.

However, an investigation by Denver7 ABC found that the DPD has been using funds derived from civil asset forfeiture to pay for much of this propaganda campaign. This may constitute a violation of policy, as those funds are only supposed to be used for equipment and training.

According to the report more than $120,000 from that fund was used to buy equipment for DPD’s media relations unit, including an Apple desktop editing system, a MacBook Pro computer and even spent $22,000 developing an app for iPhone and Android.

That’s not all. They spent $2,460 to pay for entries into a local Emmy competition. The funds for this bizarre act were requested under “police training,” even though there were no seminars or instructional time.

Detective Nick Rogers, head of Denver’s police union, has something to say about that:

Winning an Emmy is a self-promotion, self-gratification type of situation that has nothing to do with … getting better at your profession.

We’re spending that kind of money on videos that don’t drop the crime rate. [Videos] don’t solve burglaries and robberies. That’s our mission and I think we lost sight of that.

When Denver7 asked Police Deputy Chief Matt Murray about funding, he initially lied and denied the money came from civil asset forfeiture—until they presented him with the records. Murray then claimed that the campaign “helps us do a better job” in “reaching out” to the community.

However, the sad irony is that the DPD is stealing cash and assets from innocent Denver citizens to pay for their outreach to Denver citizens.

The insidious practice of civil asset forfeiture (CAF) is alive and well in Colorado. The scheme, which takes places across most of the U.S., allows law enforcement to seize cash and assets from people on the mere suspicion (often fabricated) of a crime, and they can keep this loot even if the person is never charged with a crime.

In some cases, the person can get his or her assets back, but the legal fees and headache of dealing with authorities are often too much to make it worthwhile. In Colorado, though, a loophole “allows law enforcement to keep confiscated cash even after charges are dismissed.”

An untold number of abuses have taken place using CAF, such as Joseph Rivers, who lost his life savings of $16,000 to the DEA while he was traveling to Los Angeles to pursue a music career. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado sent 20 lawyers to a ski resort conference using CAF funds.

According to the Institute for Justice’s national report on civil forfeiture, Policing for Profit, from 2000 to 2013 Colorado law enforcement agencies collected nearly $12.8 million in state forfeiture funds and an additional $47.7 million through the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. Given such large sums, it’s little wonder law enforcement is blocking State Senator Laura Woods from even getting a hearing on a bill that requires reporting of seizures of private property and law enforcement’s expenditures of forfeiture proceeds.

Chalk up the Denver Police Department as another abuser of the injustice of civil asset forfeiture. The fact that it is using these seizures for a massive propaganda campaign makes it all that much more offensive.

Image: ACLU.org

Justin Gardner writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com

  • L Garou

    #8,659 on the list of why we admire and respect the police, so very much..

  • legal eagle

    And these are the people that have the temerity of accusing 1% motorcycle clubs of being crime syndicates? Pot kettle black. There is no bigger or more well organized crime syndicate than the police and they prove it almost on a daily basis.

    • Dickard

      Removing the competition, just like our troops in Afganistan protecting one poppy field and destroying another.

  • Mick McNulty

    Ex-cops will probably form the most dangerous gangs roaming the streets after the economy collapses. Their lawlessness in a functioning society will soon become murderous in a collapsed society, but also they are organized and will be in every community unlike other gangs who will be a passing danger; bikers, drug and criminal gangsters, communists, fascists, religious fundamentalists, ethnic gangs etc.

    We are going to need reliable police officers on our side, in a way we’ve never known before.

    • Common Sense

      You mean like a MAFIA!!!
      I think we have that already.

      Just like speeding tickets, when cops have a quota to fill the act of fining offenders runs amok and you manufacture reasons to give out tickets. Civil asset forfeiture will go the same route.
      When they need more money, justice and upholding the law won’t have anything to do with it.

      What is said of a nation where you read about the blatant criminality in your justice system on widely public accessed internet sites and then we go about our business as if nothing at all is wrong.
      Complete desensitization.

      Similar things went on in Rome in it’s last days.
      Things were falling apart to the degree people were actually starving but they still went to the games.

      China and Russia don’t ever need to start a war with us. They will just sit back and wait for us to collapse from the weight of our own corruption.

    • Not Sure

      that is why i teach my kids to bulleye paint cans at 75 meters with a 1911…. ranges get longer from there depending of the tool being used

    • Archie1954

      But where are the reliable officers kept?

  • gawain

    anyone ever use the writ of quo warranto – just a thought – would not have to lawyer up ( at least that’s my impression).

  • Archie1954

    Wow, I would have thought the vaunted US Constitution would have protected the public from government appropriation without compensation!

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