Law-enforcement agencies in St. Charles County got a budget windfall of more than $1 million in 2017.
The unplanned money wasn’t the result of higher taxes or donations, but instead came from a court process known as civil asset forfeiture.
Supporters say the practice gives police and prosecutors an important tool to shut down drug-trafficking operations and other illegal activity while being compensated for their efforts. Opponents call it an unconstitutional money grab.
The practice isn’t unique to St. Charles County or Missouri. A multi-state reporting project by St. Louis Public Radio and three other outlets, backed by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, found hundreds of departments together taking in millions of dollars a year.