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DOJ’s Stealth Nationalization of Local Police

Published: May 17, 2018
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Under a Department of Justice program known as “Equitable Sharing,” local police are being deputized as federal agents in order to participate in Joint Terrorism Task Forces, enabling them to bypass their state’s own forfeiture and surveillance laws so they can spy on individuals suspected of terrorism or other crimes falling under federal jurisdiction.

This is according to an online article written by the Tenth Amendment Center’s Director of Communications Michael Maharrey. In the article, entitled “Local Cops Skirt State Limits on Surveillance by Joining Federal Task Forces,” Maharrey writes:

It’s well-known that a federal program known as “Equitable Sharing” allows local prosecutors and police to bypass more restrictive state asset forfeiture laws by passing cases off to the federal government through a process known as adoption. A Department of Justice directive issued last summer by Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterates full support for the equitable sharing program, directs federal law enforcement agencies to aggressively utilize it, and sets the stage to expand it in the future.

In other words, local police and prosecutors are able to circumvent their own state’s anti-surveillance or forfeiture laws in order to conduct warrantless surveillance or seize private property.

Local police and prosecutors are able to justify this unconstitutional abuse of power merely by transferring the case over to the jurisdiction of the federal government. By doing so, the case is then designated as a “federal adoption,” according to the DOJ directive.

Once the case has been transferred or “adopted” to the jurisdiction of the federal government, local police and prosecutors are allowed to continue working on the case as though they are federal agents, freeing them up from any restrictive local or state surveillance and forfeiture laws. The state or local police officers that were initially involved in the case prior to the “federal adoption” continue working on the case by participating in a Joint Federal Task Force, or JTTF.

Local and state police participating in the JTTF are given immunity, or protection, from what would otherwise be a violation of their state’s own restrictive surveillance and forfeiture laws. Maharrey elaborates:

When state or local law enforcement officers join a federal joint task force, they are deputized as federal agents. As a result, they then operate under the exact same parameters as an FBI or DEA agent. That means they act as if they are no longer bound by state laws governing surveillance. In practice, this allows local cops to ignore state laws as they collect information on people in their communities.

When participating in a JTTF, state and local police become an arm or extension of the federal government and DOJ; in essence, they become de facto national police.


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