Drug forfeiture law change help local police departments - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Drug forfeiture law change help local police departments

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(10/25/11) - Changes to the state's drug forfeiture law could help police departments when it comes to balancing their budgets.

Previously, money made under the drug forfeiture law had to be spent on drug enforcement or education.

That requirement is no longer in effect.

"It's going to change the way we do business," said Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel. "Very few agencies actually utilize drug forfeiture the way we do."

Two very visual examples of how he's cashed in on the law is his Ford Mustang, and the Cadillac the undersheriff drives. Both were taken from drug dealers.

Federspiel said previously, state law would have made those vehicles ineligible for road patrol. "Because my deputy's primary job is not to enforce the drug laws, it's to be first responders, therefore it did not fall within the provision of the law."

That changed with a stroke of Gov. Rick Snyder's pen on Oct. 1 when he signed House Bill 4349 into law.

"If I were to get a vehicle that was more pursuit-type vehicle, or a vehicle that could be used for the road, I could actually use it now," Federspiel said.

The law is so new Federspiel still needs to meet with the prosecutor's office to look over the details, and to figure out how it will work for Saginaw County.

But he's already thinking about what to do with the proceeds from the sale of a gold Cadillac DeVille, also taken in a drug case.

It's one of three cars the county has up for auction on eBay right now.

The sheriff says this change is a big deal for departments everywhere. "So when the citizen's say to me 'sheriff, we've got issues here,' I can say 'well, we just got some money thanks to this drug dealer and we're going to use that money to pay for the overtime and save our budget.'"

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