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.

Fortunately, the coverage didn't end there. The CBS affiliate asked for more details from the PD. It also sought comment from critics of asset forfeiture, like Dan Alban of the Institute for Justice.

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.

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Filed Under: civil asset forfeiture, dallas police, legalized theft


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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 28 Dec 2021 @ 2:26am

    All a matter of priorities

    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.

    Find some contraband? Maybe get a pat on the back and a 'good job' from the boss.

    Find a bunch of money? Oh would you look at that, someone's getting a little extra next paycheck and/or just ensured a very friendly relationship with the local cops/federal officers who just had their budget padded out.

    Whether TSA, federal agents or the local police it's no wonder they spend more time trying to find money to steal than contraband to stop as only one of those provides a personal financial benefit in finding it. Stealing a pile of cash should never have been a profitable act for law enforcement as as reprehensible as their actions are by providing that financial link such corruption become inevitable since the incentives are heavily skewed towards 'steal everything not nailed down and/or on fire, then break out the fire extinguishers and hammers.'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Dec 2021 @ 3:47am

    Re: All a matter of priorities

    Something something who will the public believe the owner of the convicted cash that there was 200K or the officer who vouchered it as 99K...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    JoeDetroit (profile), 28 Dec 2021 @ 5:23am

    Dogs can sniff out money

    They claim that the dogs are smelling drug residue on money. That dogs can smell the trace amount of drugs on cash is quite hard for me to believe. What is easy to believe is these dogs are trained specifically to sniff out the money itself. They aren't really after drugs, there is not much money in that. It makes for nice theater but what they want is the cash.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Glenn, 28 Dec 2021 @ 5:48am

    Remember when highway robbery was what we hired police to stop? Now it seems to be their primary enterprise. Shooting unarmed civilians must not be paying enough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    me, 28 Dec 2021 @ 5:57am

    Re: Dogs can sniff out money

    They train the dog to find the false positive and grab the cash, with the TSA complicit, they are all thieves and nothing but. Don't travel with your life savings

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Hero, 28 Dec 2021 @ 6:22am

    Re: Dogs can sniff out money

    Indeed the dogs are trained to smell cash; what they are actually trained to smell is the ink on the bills.

    Pro-tip: next time you want to travel with large sums of money, convert it to coins first. $100,000 in cash weighs about one metric ton when converted to quarters, so use a suitcase with wheels.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    ThatOtherOtherGuy, 28 Dec 2021 @ 7:31am

    Watch the response...

    In order to avoid the possibility of additional regulation or oversight, this money will be quickly and quietly returned to the owner.

    They know this was bogus and when it was exposed, they will backtrack. It's like robbing a bank and being able to return the money without penalty if you get caught.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2021 @ 7:52am

    yeah they'll return her 106k. Just as soon as they count all 95k of it.

    The police chief also wants to be sure all 50k of the money is returned, and with his accountant auditors is sure they'll have all 5k of it packaged up ready to go.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2021 @ 8:12am

    let's just face it! there is nothing more important to any PD in the USA than stealing money from whomsoever they can and then distributing it amongst themselves! had those sitting on the bench of the Supreme Court used the amount of legal and common sense they are supposed to have and not given this 'asset forfeiture' the amount of leeway they have, this sort of thing wouldn't even happen. to use the drug dog as an excuse is even worse, considering that there isn't a single bank note that, according to the USA security forces, that isn't tainted with 'illegal substances' of some sort. so, even for people who have never touched any illegal substance themselves, monies they have will always show as having been in contact with drugs of some sort. for any PD to use this as an excuse to steal someone's money is disgraceful! how can anyone be proud to call themselves American when this sort of shit is happening on virtually a daily basis?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2021 @ 8:30am

    If its illegal to carry cash on plans over 10k it should be announced rather than stealing money from a woman who committed no crime was not arrested did not carry any drugs is America a free country yes its free as long ad you do not carry large amounts of cash

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 28 Dec 2021 @ 8:40am

    "Ballentine" was the name of SWAT commander Lt. Howard Hunter's second in command starting season 2 of Hill Street Blues. Howard took him for granted and treated him like an automation to the point that Ballentine snapped and was referred to psychiatric care. Eventually he convinced Howard that he was fit for duty, but when he reported it turns out he was convinced he was an actual ninja and had to be re-admitted.

    This dog was named after a violently insane and delusional fictional SWAT officer. Well done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    ECA (profile), 28 Dec 2021 @ 2:52pm

    Aside/stupid question

    Its amazing, that IF our money had any value. Shouldnt it be based on When it was made?
    A 1970's $5 bill would be worth ?? $20?
    We know that it had more worth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2021 @ 3:20pm

    Shouldnt it be based on When it was made?
    A 1970's $5 bill would be worth ??

    That 1970 bill should be worth 5/35 troy ounces of gold (i.e., the US government promised one could exchange the bill for that amount of gold, at any time). That would be around $260 today.

    The USA then devalued all $5 bills, retroactively, as follows (which was a default on their debt, though people generally pretended it wasn't):
    1972: 5/38 oz
    1974: 5/42.22 oz
    1976 onwards: nothing but whatever someone's willing to give you for it

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2021 @ 8:16pm

    guess they'll have a good police mans ball this year lol

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Arijirija, 28 Dec 2021 @ 10:18pm

    Third world problem?

    Time was when we'd say this sort of corruption only happened in the Third World, or the Global South, or whatever word-of-the-day was used for the poorer quarters of the world.

    I distinctly remember when the US was blocking the PRC's entry into the World Trade Organization until the PRC undertook to abide by the Rule of Law. Something about the value of private property? And how you couldn't trust the PRC's businesses with your IPR?

    I'm wondering how big a wok the PRC will be preparing for the meal of crow the US seems to be preparing for itself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    nasch (profile), 29 Dec 2021 @ 7:45am

    Re: Dogs can sniff out money

    That dogs can smell the trace amount of drugs on cash is quite hard for me to believe.

    Dogs can detect substances at concentrations of one part per trillion. Sniffing some cocaine on money is trivially easy for them.

    https://phoenixvetcenter.com/blog/214731-how-powerful-is-a-dogs-nose

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Dec 2021 @ 12:43am

    Re: Third world problem?

    "I'm wondering how big a wok the PRC will be preparing for the meal of crow the US seems to be preparing for itself."

    They prepared that meal long ago. Note how Biden has had strong words in a few speeches and not much else, whenever the topic of Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong comes up? I'll tell you why the first reason more isn't happening:

    It's because every time a US ambassador tries to bring human rights to the debate his chinese opposite says "I agree, we should discuss human rights! Publicly!" - and hauls out a few fat folders with the names "Abu Ghraib", "Guantanamo", and "US incarceration statistics" on them. Then the US ambassador falls conspicuously silent and mumbles that perhaps it isn't time to take this to a world forum.
    Then the chinese ambassador smiles politely and says "Fine. As you wish. Let's discuss trade instead, hmm?".

    It's just difficult to discuss issues of morals and ethics when your own closet is filled to the rafters with pictures of people imprisoned and tortured without trial. You need moral high ground to hold that debate. And the US has spent the last twenty years digging itself into a pit in that regard, from which it won't emerge in this generation.

    With none of the three superpowers - US, China and Russia - giving a tinker's damn about civil rights it ends up on the EU to carry that burden - and we're full up trying to deal with our own human rights violator headaches - Turkey and Hungary. And China especially will be all too pleased to serve whatever uppity gwailo to try to lecture them on human rights some well woked crow.

    And the same holds true here: How the heck could you trust a nation to abide by standards of respecting property if their own law enforcement agencies are comparable to outfits running protection rackets?

    Ever since GWB the US hasn't had any credibility in the international forum - which is a shame because it used to be the world leader and for a brief period post-WW2 served as the world conscience.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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