The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Policing for Profit:
Highway Robbery

Sep 15, 2014

In the past 15 years, police seized more than 2.5 billion dollars in cash from motorists not charged with any crimes, according to an investigation by the Washington Post.

Police stop motorists on busy highways for minor traffic violations, such as tinted windows, improper signaling and speeding, and then search the car under those pretexts. The police seize the money they find.

Police call this practice “highway interdiction.” The police unabashedly advocate this practice. A former deputy sheriff, Ron Hain, of Kane County, Illinois, explains in his book that “All of our home towns are sitting on a tax- liberating gold mine ... turning our police forces into present-day Robin Hoods.” Hain’s company Desert Snow is a leader in training the police for highway interdiction and turning profit out of this scheme. The seized cash since 2008 forms more than 20 percent of the annual budgets of these agencies and cash-strapped municipalities.

Since fighting the government in court to recover the seized cash can easily take more than a year and cost more than the money that was stolen, most people don’t contest this highway robbery.

The majority of the motorists targeted for the cash seizure were black, Latino, or other minorities, according to the court records, which isn’t a surprise given the racist attitudes in most police departments.

“Highway interdiction” is just another means of taxing working people and the poor.