Drug Task Force Seizures, For And AgainstThank you for the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 07, 1993

Drug Task Force Seizures, For And Against

Thank you for the article Feb. 17 on the Carroll County task force's drug seizure initiatives. Your article clearly confirms the misuse of power that "60 Minutes" highlighted in a segment several months ago.

Your article was, however, just the tip of this outrageous, out-of-control iceberg which could wreck the lives of any of us. In one incident reported by AOPA Pilot (published by Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association), the Drug Enforcement Agency confiscated a helicopter from a student conducting solo flights in it.

No drugs were involved, yet DEA agents filed to seize the property because, in their view, the student was operating the helicopter illegally because he was not yet certified. Federal aviation regulations permit pilots to solo as part of their training, and this hapless pilot was victimized by an agency whose mission is supposed to be involved in drug enforcement. Fortunately, AOPA has joined the case as a friend of the court.

You may be interested in knowing that federal laws require the victim of such seizures to post a bond equal to 10 percent of the property's value, with a minimum of $5,000, just to file to recover. Then, there are enormous legal fees. Meanwhile, agencies, in an effort to gain more money for their Gestapo-like action, attempt to sell the property back to the unfortunate and innocent owner. Many accept their offer to avoid the high cost of litigation.

These forfeiture laws need to be changed. Government agencies, including the Carroll County Task Force, have lost their sense of mission and need to be reined in. A war on drugs shouldn't be at the expense of innocent people's rights. Our forefathers must be spinning in their graves!

Gene Edwards

Eldersburg

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I find the attitude and procedures of the Carroll County Drug Task Force reprehensible and unbelievable.

The law should be revised to allow seizure of a convicted felon's property, and not that of innocent bystanders. Also, every dollar received from the seizure of property involved in a crime related to drugs should be turned over to the state general fund.

The Frenchman was right: Power corrupts. Absolute power will corrupt absolutely!

Richard L. Liposchak

Baltimore

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After reading the Feb. 22 editorial (titled, "Banana Republic Law Enforcement") and Thomas Hickman's letter (Feb. 28), I felt obligated to inform Mr. Hickman and other citizens of Carroll County that people do see through the poor excuses called editorials.

I find it despicable that people actually feel the Fourth Amendment is in place to protect the fools who consciously decide to violate our laws. The Fourth Amendment should not be used by an indulgent defense attorney whose client was caught with a "smoking gun."

I'm glad that Carroll County has a state's attorney and law enforcement community that uses the forfeiture laws to get the drug user as well as the drug pusher. If one dares to take the risk, then one must be willing to pay the price. As for the mother in one of your anti-task force pieces whose car was seized, I have no sympathy for the predicament that she is in today. If she would direct her concern toward the real problem (her daughter), she may save herself problems in the future.

I agree with the philosophy of the state's attorney and the Carroll County Drug Task Force and hope that neither cower to the liberal thinking that has torn apart communities around the country.

James Jacobs

New Windsor

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With regards to Carroll County Drug Task Force's heavy hand enforcing the confiscation laws even in the case of small amounts of narcotics, isn't the law, the law, the law?

Isn't the purpose of seizure to deter the use and distribution of illegal substances?

The Sun's editorial (Feb. 22) refers to "Banana Republic Law Enforcement"; neither this editorial nor the previous article addresses the effectiveness of the program. . . .

Has Carroll County's heavy-handed drug enforcement policy done more to control the use of narcotics then procedures in other jurisdictions? . . .

If their type of enforcement is more effective, it should be emulated, not disparaged.

Why should Carroll County be accountable to the Sunpapers to provide information on the disposal of confiscated property?

Charles D. Connelly

Woodlawn

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