• U.S.

Law Enforcement: The Spoils Of War

1 minute read

Federal agents on patrol often tool around in cars once owned by drug dealers, since law-enforcement officers are permitted the use of confiscated property that has “operational value.” But last week the General Accounting Office in Washington announced that it had put a stop to one rather broad interpretation of “operational value” by Drug Enforcement Administration officials in Dallas.

The Dallas office had been decorated with some $14,000 worth of booty from drug raids: walnut china cabinets, brass table lamps, a 24-in. television, a VCR and stereo equipment. One special agent argued that the furnishings indeed had operational value: they enhanced the office. The GAO disagreed, and much of the property has been removed. The DEA, which manages more than $370 million in confiscated goods, has now issued stricter guidelines on such use.

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