Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday effectively ended the Equitable Sharing process in which local and state police seized billions in cash, cars and other property under federal law without evidence that a crime occurred. The Justice Department’s new policy prohibits federal agencies from “adopting” local seizures into the Equitable Sharing program, with a few limited exceptions.
In October, The Washington Post published a story that detailed how police agencies spent proceeds taken from Americans under the federal civil forfeiture laws. It was the fourth part in a series focusing on Equitable Sharing, which split funds between Justice and local and state police departments. Those departments received up to 80 percent of the money.
The Post story was based on 43,000 forms obtained from Justice through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Post found the purchases were composed of a mix of the practical and the high-tech. They included high-powered guns, armored cars, electronic surveillance equipment, helicopters, luxury cars and more, including a clown named Sparkles.
After the story was published, The Post filed another FOIA request to obtain the underlying data in an electronic format. You can download the data on Github.
You can also search for the forms submitted by local and state agencies in the embedded documents below. Search your local police department by typing in your city or town. You can also search for specific items authorities purchased.