11/01/11 — Drug seizure money assists police

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Drug seizure money assists police

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on November 1, 2011 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro Police Department can thank drug forfeitures for its newest four-legged employee.

Elvis, a German shepherd, can credit his employment as a police dog, which began in early August, to federal and state tax remittance money received by the department over the years.

The acceptance of drug forfeiture money has become so commonplace on the City Council's meeting agendas that it seldom is even discussed, but the state and federal forfeiture programs are having a big effect on the way the city's police department operates, officials say.

The remittance pumped more than $19,000 into the police department's budget from federal drug forfeitures, which Interim Police Chief Jeff Stewart said comes about when assets seized by law enforcement agencies from narcotics dealers and other criminals are sold. The payment is split evenly between all of the agencies who assisted in the case. Both the value of the items seized and the number of law enforcement agencies involved can cause the totals to range from a small amount to thousands of dollars.

There are stipulations as to how the funds can be used, as each check received from the state or federal government is placed into a separate coffer. The money can be used to pay informants, purchase controlled substances, equipment or for training officers. The money can't be used to pay for anything listed as a line item in the budget, though, as each expenditure must be spent on a new activity.

The state drug forfeiture line item of the department's budget holds $48,270.37, while the federal fund total is $72,275.21.

Stewart, who took over as interim police chief in March, said the only purchase made with the funds since he took the job was for Elvis, who, like the other canines on the force, is an all-purpose dog who assists in drug detection, tracking criminal suspects and protecting officers.

Elvis has been in training, preparing for his debut. He is expected to be put to work this month.

Stewart said the word to describe the use of the forfeiture funds was "frugal."

"It's only if we need some type of equipment," he said. "And we usually try to put it back in narcotics."