Crooks help pay for crime prevention programs

Each year over the four-year period up to 2022 the police “earned” more than $1 million, including interest on the cash, that was spent for crime programs or equipment as required by city ordinance.

In all, $1.2 million in cash was seized. Most of the other property seized was cars, ranging from Mercedes-Benz and BMWs to a cheap Ford pickup.

Virtually all the money came from people charged with drug offenses.

Fittingly, given the source of the money, drug treatment, drug abuse education and drug prevention programs led the list of expenditures, which also included other crime prevention, safe neighborhood, or school resource and officer programs.

The police report the information to the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement annually and those reports indicate that criminal cash is a growing source of revenue for the JSO.

Civil libertarians are skeptical of asset forfeiture, claiming it has been abused by some departments that have seized cash from citizens when it was not warranted. Presumably, there are safeguards in place to prevent that from happening in Jacksonville.

However, the figures submitted to the state don’t seem to reconcile with the detailed information provided in the report.

In the 2022 fiscal year, officers of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office seized $4.3 million worth of cash and property from suspected criminals, according to the statement they filed.

They gave $1.3 million of it back, but more than a million dollars was used for police programs and equipment, saving the taxpayers from having to provide that amount.

Eye on Jacksonville wanted to talk to Detective Scott Clark, the officer who filed the report, to understand the difference but the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office would not allow an interview. The difference between the summary and the details may have to do with the fact that some of the money was from negotiated settlements, which could have delayed payment. But that is only a supposition caused by the police refusal to provide information.

The amount from negotiated settlements was $2 million and it involved mostly seized cars.

Eye obtained the reports that had been filed with the state via a public records request to the Sheriff’s Office. There was no charge for the information.

The reports also indicate that the police do not spend all of the money they seize each year but Eye was unable to find out what happens to the remainder, because of the police refusal to explain. Possibly it is retained in a fund and carried over year to year. The reports indicate that the difference between what was collected and what was spent was $808,361.

These are the summarized amounts collected and spent by year according to the reports filed with the state government:

Fiscal YearCollectedSpent

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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