Friday, August 26, 2011

Bob Buckhorn's New Whip

Civil asset forfeiture is the practice wherein law enforcement and the government at large take possession of property seized during illegal activities (or allegedly legal activities; remember that whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing?).

If you get arrested, you may get your day in court and found not guilty, but don't count on using your stuff. That's for the important guys like Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn, whose pillaging would make the Vikings blush:

Mayor Bob Buckhorn's city vehicle, a jet black GMC Yukon Denali with tinted windows, was seized from a man charged last month with sex trafficking, sexual battery and forcing someone to become a prostitute.

...

Tampa police seized the SUV on Sept. 28 during their investigation. In addition to transporting prostitutes and the proceeds of prostitution, the SUV was purchased from proceeds of prostitution, police maintain in court documents. In a letter, Fox denied that, saying a cousin's husband bought the SUV at a Clearwater car auction.

Buckhorn pulled the gas guzzler from the department's forfeiture fleet in April, the same month he took office. It has about 105,000 miles on its odometer and averages about 14 miles per gallon.

Fox sounds like a creep, but here in America we have a right to trial. Legally speaking, the mayor is driving a vehicle taken from an innocent man. But rest assured that Buckhorn had good reasons for picking this treat out of TPD's stable:

"The reason I drive it – number one is because I have a family. I have young kids who travel with me a lot and I need a car that's safe," Buckhorn said. "Secondarily, as you can see we often travel with staff and we get a lot of work done while we're traveling. It's easy to do work in a larger car. Thirdly, in the event of a hurricane I need a vehicle that can get though high water, get through debris, get me to a zone where we can take care of business."

Would that we could all get a car from our job to jump puddles and haul the kids around.

It's nice to talk a tough game about law and order, but I hope we all can admit the horrible incentives posed by government executives using the goodies taken from citizens who have yet to be proven guilty in a court of law.