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Willow Springs Police Department spent $966,625 from Seizures /Forfitures

LAWNEWS

Police Department Bought Motorcycles, Cars With Nearly $1 Million Seized Under Controversial Program

The Equitable Sharing Program was suspended late last year for budgetary reasons, but was restarted by the Justice Department earlier this month. (iStockPhoto)

A new report from the Justice Department found that a police department located in a Chicago suburb used nearly $1 million it received from a controversial government program to buy items including motorcycles, a Chevy Camaro, and a boat, raising further questions about whether the program should exist at all.

According to an audit conducted by the Justice Department and released today, the Willow Springs Police Department in Willow Springs, Ill., spent $966,625 in funds from the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program to purchase items the federal agency contended were outside the program’s intended purpose of enhancing law enforcement operations.

The Equitable Sharing Program was suspended late last year for budgetary reasons but was restarted by the Justice Department earlier this month.

“The excess and deficiencies of the Willow Springs Police Department are symptoms of a larger problem,” Jason Snead, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “The lack of transparency, oversight and accountability in how equitable sharing funds are spent allow for this sort of ridiculous purchase.”

In its audit, the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General reported that the Willow Springs Police Department spent more than $116,000 it received from the Equitable Sharing Program to purchase 13 vehicles, some of which were used sparingly, including two Harley Davidson motorcycles, a 2013 Chevy Camaro, and a 2013 Ford F-250.

The police department also used money from the program to fund overtime and payroll costs and purchase computer equipment, Tasers, and office furniture.

Each of the motorcycles the department bought was further outfitted with new wheels, exhaust, chrome upgrades, and heated handgrips, and driven 512 and 799 miles, respectively. The Justice Department, noting the $23,562 cost to adding upgrades to the Harley Davidsons, called them “unnecessary.”

Not only did the government find that the motorcycles were used sparingly, but the Chevy Camaro the Willow Springs Police Department purchased with Equitable Sharing funds registered only 518 miles on its odometer as of July 2015. The police department bought the car, which the government said was a “pursuit car,” in June 2014.

Though officials with the Village of Willow Springs did not refute the purchase of the Camaro—and the use of equitable sharing payments to buy it—the law enforcement agency did disagree with the characterization of the car as a “pursuit vehicle.” Instead, town officials said the Camaro was used for “covert operations” that do “enhance law enforcement operations.”

The Justice Department also called into question a 2013 Ford Expedition and 26-foot boat the Willow Springs Police Department bought using forfeiture proceeds.

According to town officials, who responded to the Justice Department’s audit, the police department bought the Ford Expedition for its former police chief. Though the SUV was a “civilian model,” it was “fully loaded.”

The Willow Springs Police Department also bought a second Ford Expedition using forfeiture proceeds, which was $13,000 cheaper than the “fully loaded” model.

The boat, bought primarily with a grant awarded by the Department of Homeland Security, was intended to be used for patrolling the Des Plaines River, according to the Justice Department.

It’s been used just three times by the Willow Springs Police Department.

Under the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, participating law enforcement agencies seize cash, cars, and property under federal asset forfeiture laws, which experts like Snead say allows police departments to circumvent state laws that are oftentimes more strict. Through their participation in the program, agencies keep up to 80 percent of forfeiture proceeds, with the remaining money going to the federal government.

Civil asset forfeiture is a tool that gives law enforcement the power to seize property, cash, and cars if they suspect they’re tied to a crime. In some instances, the property owner is never charged with a crime.

Many who advocate for reforming civil asset forfeiture laws at both the state and federal levels point to the Equitable Sharing Program as one aspect in need of changing.

Under the controversial program, police departments must use the money they receive for “law enforcement purposes,” which civil asset forfeiture opponents argue is vague and can lead police departments nationwide to purchase unnecessary items.

“Law enforcement agencies that receive these funds do not have to justify their purchases or expenses to elected legislators or the public. It is only via audits, sometimes years after the fact, that the public ever finds out about any improprieties,” Snead said.

“That makes it all the more likely that waste and abuse will continue to occur—if not in Willow Springs, then in the countless other agencies that partner with DOJ to get their share of the hundreds of millions of dollars of forfeiture funds doled out each year,” he continued.

Snead warns that the Equitable Sharing Program furthers the profit incentive that he believes civil forfeiture creates, as law enforcement agencies can use forfeiture dollars to pad their budgets, particularly in times when funding may be cut.

“It is ironic that earlier this week, DOJ heralded the return of equitable sharing payments by stating that law enforcement agencies desperately need these funds for critical law enforcement operations,” Snead said, “yet only days later, the DOJ I.G. is noting that this agency spent $67,000 on chrome-accented motorcycles it barely uses.

Source: Will County News

Ted Nugent’s 20 Reasons to Vote for Trump Liberals Horrified

 From theConservative Tribune 4/2/2016

Conservative favorite Ted Nugent is known for his straightforward approach.

It should come as no surprise, then, that a recent Facebook post by the outspoken guitarist explaining reasons to vote for GOP front-runner Donald Trump would send liberals into full panic mode.

While Nugent did not endorse any candidate, he said his list in favor of voting for “The Donald” was too special not to share.

We think you’ll agree with him:

Obama is against Trump
The Media is against Trump
The establishment Democrats are against Trump
The establishment Republicans are against Trump
The Pope is against Trump
The UN is against Trump
The EU is against Trump
China is against Trump
Mexico is against Trump
Soros is against Trump
Black Lives Matter is against Trump
MoveOn.Org is against Trump
Koch Bro’s are against Trump
Hateful, racist, violent Liberals are against Trump

The Nuge nailed it. The reason these people and organizations are against Trump is because he threatens them and their left-wing agenda. A Trump presidency would certainly shake up the infrastructure many on this list have either established or fought to maintain under President Barack Obama and his administration.

 

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Source: Will County News

Greek illegalls will be held and sent back once their asylum applications are processed

Uncertainty prevails on day before Greece starts returns of migrants

There was little sign of preparation on either side of the Aegean less than 24 hours before Greece was due to begin returning migrants to Turkey, and Greek and Turkish officials gave conflicting information on the logistics of the plan.

The returns are a key part of an agreement between the European Union and Turkey aimed at ending the uncontrollable influx into Europe of refugees and migrants fleeing war and misery in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Under the deal, those who cross into Greece illegally will be held and sent back once their asylum applications are processed. For every Syrian returned, one Syrian will be resettled to Europe directly from Turkey.

So far, more than 6,000 migrants and refugees have been registered on Greek islands since March 20, the date on which the agreement came into force. Where they will depart from, to where they will be sent, and even how many people will be taken back to Turkey under this deal on Monday, remains unclear.

On Sunday, there were few signs that Lesbos, the island hundreds of thousands of people passed through on their way to northern Europe, was getting ready to send back migrants. A police spokesman said the force was still awaiting instructions.

Across the Aegean in the coastal town of Dikili, which a Turkish official said would receive refugees sent back from Greece, just two room-size tents were set up on the pier of its cramped port on Saturday. Two portable toilets were installed nearby.

Further south, four small blue tents were set upon the town of Cesme for those sent back from the Greek island of Chios.

Turkey’s interior minister, Efkan Ala, was quoted by the pro-government newspaper Aksam as saying 500 people were expected in Turkey from Greece on Monday. Afghans, Iraqis and Pakistanis would be deported to their countries, he said.

The Athens News Agency reported over the weekend that the returns would begin on Monday morning on two Turkish passenger ships chartered by Frontex, the EU border agency. Some 250 people would be returned each day through Wednesday, the report said, without citing sources.

“Planning is in progress,” George Kyritsis, a Greek government spokesman for the migration crisis told Reuters. “I will not confirm any report.”

Kyritsis said returns would take place on Monday, “barring any massive hurdle which cannot be overcome” but they would not be of people who have applied for asylum. The numbers being floated “had come out of thin air,” he said.

“CHALLENGING AND VOLATILE”

More than 51,000 migrants and refugees remain in Greece since border closures along the Balkans last month. Hundreds of migrants who on Friday broke out of the Chios holding facility in protest at the deal are at the island’s port. Hundreds of migrants in mainland Greece are also protesting to demand the borders open.

Arrivals to the islands remained steady on Sunday, two weeks since March 20, with 514 migrants, including many Syrians and Iraqis, crossing from Turkey through Sunday morning. Of those, 364 arrived on Lesbos, authorities said.

Many of those rescued by the Greek coast guard off Lesbos were unaware they would be sent back to Turkey.

Greece’s parliament passed an asylum amendment bill on Friday needed to implement the agreement. The legislation does not explicitly designate Turkey as a “safe third country” – a formula to make any mass returns legally sound.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and human rights groups have denounced the agreement as lacking legal safeguards. Amnesty International called it “a historic blow to human rights” and said it would send a delegation to Lesbos and Chios on Monday to monitor the situation.

UNHCR’s spokesman on Lesbos, Boris Cheshirkov said there were still gaps in both Greece and Turkey that need to be addressed.

“We’re not opposed to returns as long as people are not in need of international protection, they have not applied for asylum,” he said.

More than 3,300 migrants and refugees are on Lesbos, an island of mainly Greek refugees who fled Turkey in the 1920s.

About 2,800 people are held at the Moria center, a sprawling complex of prefabricated containers, 800 more than its stated capacity. Of those, 2,000 have made asylum claims, UNHCR said.

Aid agencies have pulled out of Moria since it became a closed facility last month and in protest at conditions there. Journalists have been barred from entering the site and holding centers on four other islands.

Condition on Lesbos were “challenging and volatile,” UNHCR said, with insufficient food and pregnant women and children among those held. Families have been separated since the deal, with some members inside Moria and others elsewhere in Europe.

“Many of those who have arrived here have experienced horrendous wars,” Cheshirkov said. “To be put in a closed environment feels like punishment whereas seeking asylum is not a crime, it’s a fundamental human right.”

(Additional reporting by Murad Sezer in CESME and Lefteris Papadimas in ATHENS; Writing by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Migrants and refugees with their mouths taped stage a protest at a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, Greece, April 1, 2016.
REUTERS/MARKO DJURICA

Source: Will County News