The Edmond Sun

September 24, 2013

Police department uses Assett Forfeiture Fund

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The Edmond City Council approved a supplemental appropriation this week of $27,900 and $53,000 from the Asset Forfeiture Fund. The vote was 5-0. City Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner asked that the public record show an explanation for the expense.

“There are certain things about asset forfeiture and how we can spend that money and how we can’t,” Waner said. Asset Forfeiture Funds cannot be used to fund the Public Safety Center project, Waner said.

“The overwhelming majority is actually cash that we take off of drug dealers,” said Police Chief Bob Ricks.

The Police Department did not ask for any additional officers to be figured into its budget when the current budget was approved by the Council. Since that time, four police officers have been deployed by the military, Ricks said.

“We’ve had three that have been injured and one that is on permanent disability,” Ricks said. “And our city manager decided we should go forward and have a new academy.”

A new purchase of eight additional firearms has been necessary for the eight-person academy, Ricks said. A study has concluded only one single firearm should be consistent with every officer on down from the chief, Ricks said.

“We will be consistent in regard to caliber, in regard to use of the firearm,” Ricks said. “If someone gets in trouble, they can use the other officer’s firearm.”

Conversations with the manufacturer had priced the collective cost of the weapons at $67,900. Trading in the old firearms for every officer will reduce the cost to $27,500, Ricks said.

“The forfeiture fund is put together by different forfeitures that we’ve had over a number of years,” Ricks said. “We’ve tried to accumulate those dollars for special purposes of buying what we normally could not buy.”

This forfeiture funding is not derived from the Public Safety sales tax fund. The dollars spent are audited by the federal government. Forfeiture funds cannot be spent on salaries and city programs that are outside the Police Department, Ricks said.

The $53,000 for a police rescue vehicle was budgeted this fiscal year with the understanding it would be paid for by the Asset Forfeiture Fund, Ricks continued.

“One particular vendor told us they believed they could come in at the price under $200,000,” Ricks said. “When we were dealing with them, they actually came in with a number substantially higher than that.”

A bid with the stipulation of a supplemental appropriation of $53,000, Ricks said.