The first exception is important. If it only applies to those investigations in which federal law enforcement personnel are actively involved, that’s less troubling…. But this exception could also apply to the hundreds of multijurisdictional drug task forces around the country. These task forces are usually made up of police officers from local police agencies (a few from the sheriff’s office, a few from nearby city and town police departments). Because they span several jurisdictions, they aren’t usually answerable to a single sheriff or police chief. They’re typically funded with federal grants, state grants and asset forfeiture. If the fact that they are federally funded qualifies them as a “joint task force” for the first exception, that’s a really huge loophole…The second and third exceptions are important, too. Basically, they still enable local authorities to take an investigation federal if they’re really determined to do so. It just requires them to get active participation from a federal law enforcement official. As a whole, then, the new policy doesn’t eliminate equitable sharing so much as puts some roadblocks in front of local law enforcement before they can use it. But those roadblocks aren’t insignificant.
January 17, 2015 at 7:15 PM EST