In recent months the Victoria Police Department has recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and assets after conducting several seizures from homes under surveillance.
On July 8, the VicPD seized $50,000 in cash from the 600-block of Manchester Avenue, as well as found several replica firearms and illicit drugs.
Just four days before on July 4, the VicPD seized an additional $25,000 in cash, as well as a loaded handgun and illicit drugs.
In fact, in 2019 so far the Victoria Police Department has seized over $150,000 in cash, begging the question: where does that cash go?
“Once evidence is documented it goes up for civil forfeiture,” said VicPD spokesperson Bowen Osoko. “Once assets are liquidated, funding goes towards victim accommodation services, counselling, police training and equipment and the development of police training programs.”
Osoko added that the Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO), a body of the provincial government, runs things a little differently than standard criminal law practice in that a person doesn’t have to be convicted to lose their assets.
In an example, Osoko noted that if a man was charged with a crime, an application could still be put forward for the seizure of his car even if he hasn’t been found guilty yet.
Assets are pooled provincially, and are not distributed based on where they were collected. Drugs and weapons are used as evidence, and then destroyed by local police departments.
According to Colin Hynes, spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, under which the CFO is a branch, since 2007 the CFO has recovered approximately $96 million in forfeitures.
“As our primary focus is conducting litigation, the largest single operating cost is legal costs,” Hynes said. “All recoveries in excess of operational costs go to crime prevention grants.”
Since 2007 $1.67 million from these funds have gone towards victim compensation services, usually for victims of fraud.
Another $42.3 million have gone forward in grants to police departments across the province for equipment and training upgrades.
Between 2017-2018 (the most recently released grant report from the CFO), the Victoria Police Department received $700 to cover sponsorship for the attendance of the BC Association of Police Boards conference and $7,442.40 for the purchase of 12 new ballistic helmets and ARC adapters.
VicPD also received $5,000 for the Victoria Crime Stoppers conference, $10,560 for the purchase of 96 trauma first aid kits, and $11,694.87 for one investigator to attend a week-long session of Vehicle Forensics Examination Training.
The Saanich Police department received $2,500 towards a new vehicle for the Community Engagement Division, and another $10,000 for new, covert GPS tracking devices.
The Sidney/North Saanich RCMP department received $6,925.80 for the purchase of four radio sets, while Sooke RCMP received$3,499.65 for the purchase of two pieces of radio surveillance equipment.
The Westshore RCMP received $5,985 for the purchase of three fully-equipped mountain bikes “to be used for surveillance operations.”
The largest sum of cash in 2017-2018 went to the Vancouver Police Department, with a total of $92,811 for the renewal of a civilian investigation assistant position at the department.
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