Dallas PD Brags About Stealing Money From A Woman At An Airport, Is Now Facing Scrutiny From Its Oversight Board
from the might-need-that-cash-to-treat-all-those-bullet-wounds-in-your-feet dept
In a spectacular bit of self-ownership, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) took to Facebook to brag about stealing money from a person at Love Field Airport.
If you can’t read the text or see the picture, it’s a photograph of a Dallas PD drug dog standing next to several piles of money. The caption, written by the DPD, says:
We need to get him some treats! K9 Officer Ballentine does it again! On 12/2/21, the Lovefield Interdiction Squad seized over $100,000 with the help of Ballentine. Good job Ballentine!
The post made no mention of what criminal activity was suspected nor why the person was approached and had her money taken from her. Here’s how Dallas’ CBS affiliate first covered the news:
High praise for a K-9 officer at Dallas Love Field Airport after more than $100,000 was found in a passenger’s luggage.
On December 2 the canine — named ‘Ballentine’ — alerted on an individual checked suitcase. It turns out the bag, that belonged to 25-year-old woman from Chicago who was on a layover at the airport, contained blankets and two large bubble envelopes filled with $106,829 in cash.
A drug dog alerting on cash means nothing. A large percentage of cash in circulation contains trace amounts of illegal substances. The dog was the excuse for taking the cash. The fawning coverage by CBS DFW at least took the time to mention that the woman had not been arrested and that the Dallas PD was pursuing civil asset forfeiture.
Perhaps the best part of the follow-up coverage — beyond having most of its runtime given over to critics of civil forfeiture — is the bold misstatement of the law by the law enforcement agency involved.
A DPD spokesperson also alleged that travelers are not allowed to board a plane with more than $10,000 of cash without declaring it, even on domestic flights.
This simply isn’t true. Cash only needs to be declared if it’s exiting or entering the country. That’s part of customs work. It has nothing to do with the “drug interdiction” these cops were performing. And, obviously, the officers found no drugs so nothing appears to have been interdicted. Instead, the cops walked away with a domestic traveler’s money, all because their trained 4-legged stooge did the thing when it detected the odor of drugs on an item often tainted with trace amounts of drugs.
Even better, the follow-up contains a ridiculous statement from another law enforcement officer:
Jody Barr, also with WJZY, asked TSA spokesperson Mark Howell about asset forfeiture, pointing out that TSA rules do not prohibit traveling with large amounts of cash.
“It says here, TSA rule 100.4, is traveling with large amounts of currency is not illegal,” Barr told Howell.
“Yeah, it’s not, it’s not. And that’s why I said it’s allowed. But again, when it’s in the screening checkpoint, again, like I said, if there is a large amount of cash, or if the way that it’s packaged, it looks strange, then we’re going to contact law enforcement,” Howell responded.
That’s an admission by the TSA that it looks for cash — something that’s not illegal or dangerous. It should be keeping an eye out for contraband and terrorists. But that part of the job is something it doesn’t do particularly well. However, it does seem to be able to locate cash for cops or federal officers to take — something that doesn’t do anything to improve the security of transportation.
The DPD also offered another comment, one that said little more than its drug interdiction team hangs out at the airport with Ballantine and goes sniffing around until they find something. Cash is always a welcome discovery, since it can be taken without all the hassle of determining criminal charges or actually engaging in an investigation.
There’s a bit more to add to this story. The local oversight board wants the PD to explain why it took this person’s cash.
“What I want to know are what are the rules? And did this woman break them? And it’s not clear to me that she did,” said Brandon Friedman, who sits on the city’s Community Police Oversight Board.
At its meeting Tuesday night, he expressed alarm at the lack of explanation from Dallas Police.
“I understand that they’re sensitive, confidential topics that may be part of an investigation that they can’t divulge to the public. But, somebody with oversight responsibility needs to be told,” said Friedman.
The DPD is supposed to send someone to attend next month’s meeting of the oversight board and answer questions about this seizure. And lawmakers in the state have offered their criticism of the DPD’s actions, meaning it is now facing more scrutiny than usual. Whether or not this will result in any changes to DPD procedures remains to be seen. But one thing is certain to be altered. We can pretty much guarantee this will be the last time the PD brags about taking money from people on social media. Future seizures will go unreported, at least by the Dallas PD, which means it will be a bit more difficult to determine how often it utilizes civil asset forfeiture to take property from people on domestic flights.