Anti Civil Rights ideas & "Friends" Cops You have to be kidding, right!?!

Never ever agree to allow the cops to search & here is why

RENO, Nev. (KRNV) – There’s a new push to change Nevada law to stop the alleged abuse of power by civil forfeiture. This sparked more interest in the wake of a high-profile case where Nevada troopers confiscated a man’s life savings.

Push to change Nevada law after troopers confiscate man’s 80k life savings (KRNV)

One year ago, Stephen Lara was driving behind a semi truck he wanted to pass. He was driving the speed limit, east of Sparks along Interstate 80. Dash camera from a Nevada State Police showed the trooper, in the fast lane, following Lara for several miles. Lara said he didn’t feel safe cutting in front of the trooper to pass the semi, so he trailed behind the truck. After several miles the trooper pulled him over for tailgating.

“We’re seeing a bunch of crashes out here, I’m just trying to educate people,” the trooper said. “You got your driver’s license with you?”

That’s when he started peppering Lara with questions. The trooper learned that Lara is a retired Marine who was traveling from Texas to Portola, California, to see his daughters. The trooper asks if he has any drugs, guns or large amounts of cash in the car.

“Officer: Okay. How much money you got in there?

Lara: A lot.

Officer: Okay.

Lara: [unintelligible] So-

Officer: Fair enough. Fair enough. Um, would you give me permission to search your vehicle today?

Lara: Sure.”

The trooper found nearly $87,000 in cash in Lara’s car. He also had a stack of receipts proving the money was withdrawn from the bank over time. Lara said it was his life savings. He said he doesn’t trust banks, doesn’t have a credit card and it’s his way of living within his means, without carrying debt.

Officer: Why do you transport bulk currency like that?

Lara: Well there’s nothing illegal about it.

Officer: No.”

More than an hour later, troopers confiscated the cash, suspecting it may be drug money.

“I knew at the time he didn’t have probable cause to search my vehicle but at the same time I was like, ‘You know I have nothing to hide, I’ll just be totally transparent and then just be on my way,'” Lara later told KRNV.

Lara was left with just a few dollars in his pocket and a desperate desire to make some changes.

Will a lawsuit force a change?

Lawyers from the non-profit group Institute for Justice took on Lara’s case and filed a federal and state lawsuit. The group fights what it calls abuse of power through its lawyers on staff.

Six months after a national media group reported on this case, the feds gave Lara his money back.

Most innocent people will never see redemption like Lara did. About half of forfeitures involves less than $1,000. It would cost more money to hire an attorney than the amount lost.

Lara’s federal court case was dropped after he got his money back. The case in the Second Judicial District Court in Washoe County is still pending.

“The real problem here is that the highway patrol officials didn’t forfeit the money under Nevada law, they used a federal program called Equitable Sharing to get around the protections of Nevada law and the Nevada constitution,” said Ben Field, attorney with Institute for Justice.

The Institute for Justice said this is a form of theft – highway robbery. Field said the abuse happens when officers don’t even have to charge somebody with a crime and confiscate their money. He added that they put the burden on that person to prove they are innocent.

There’s big financial gains for agencies to do forfeitures.

“When you have highway patrol officers like this pulling Steven over and forfeiting his money through the federal government, they get to take up to 80% of the back which they can use for their own salary for their own equipment. So they have a personal financial stake in forfeiting money,” Field said.

Forfeitures and seizures bring in big bucks for Nevada agencies

Agencies report their seizures and forfeitures to the Nevada Attorney General. In the last fiscal year from July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021, Nevada agencies took in more than $9 million.

  • Reno Police Dept.: $269,299.56
  • Sparks Police Dept.: $74,620.12
  • Washoe County Sheriff’s Office: $198,890.35
  • Dept. of Public Safety: $415,316.19

Reno and Sparks Police as well as the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office didn’t provide a comment for this story. The Department of Public Safety that oversees State Police previously told KRNV it won’t comment on pending litigation.

Law enforcement have been vocal about the benefits of asset forfeitures.

“They say openly, ‘Hey, if you take away this tool that we have, you’ll probably need to raise taxes because we’re so reliant on this,'” said Robert Fellner with the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

Lawmakers continue to push for a change

Nevada lawmakers have introduced many bills to reform this law. All fell flat.

In 2019, AB420 was supported by all democrats and half the republicans in the Assembly. But Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro killed it. She is a Clark County Deputy District Attorney and has strong law enforcement backing.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an issue with such widespread support and you listen to all that testimony and the only constituency on the other side of the lawn enforcement community,” Fellner said. “They have an unbelievably strong voice.”

Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler backed AB420 in 2019.

“I think but the civil forfeiture is important, don’t get me wrong. It’s a good law enforcement tool but there needs to be some checks and balances in there,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said he’d like to talk to law enforcement agencies and police unions to to see if there could be some kind of adjudication before taking someone’s property or money.

“The constitution says nobody’s property should be taken without adjudication,” Wheeler said. “What I’d like to see is maybe a special master available for the police to call in to say should we or shouldn’t we.”

All proponents to change the law admit it’s going to be a hard push to pass a reform bill in the legislature. It’s failed too many times in the past, and it’s likely Senator Cannizzaro will kill it again.

It also brings in a lot of money for agencies. Without the forfeitures, law enforcement has said taxes would have to go up to make up the money in the budget.

Below is what each Nevada agency reported in seizures and forfeitures to the Attorney General’s Office from July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021.

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