Another Tennessee police department breaks law on civil asset forfeiture, audit report says

Another Tennessee police department breaks law on civil asset forfeiture, audit report says

Tennessee Comptrollers are calling out Graysville police after officers seized a car in a drug arrest and used it illegally.

According to an audit from state Comptroller Justin Wilson, the city’s animal control chief had exclusive use of the car.

Police must use any property they obtain during a narcotics arrest for police business only.

Neither Graysville’s mayor nor its police chief immediately returned repeated requests for comment. Graysville is 35 miles northeast of Chattanooga.

“The city of Graysville’s personnel have had considerable turnover the last two years,” according to the audit.

“Both the city police chief and the city recorder have been terminated and replacements hired.”

Justin Wilson (photo courtesy of Facebook)

Justin Wilson (photo courtesy of Facebook)

It’s unclear why the city recorder was fired.

But, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, former Graysville Police Chief Jason Redden pleaded guilty last month to two counts of official misconduct for abusing other seized assets.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Redden in 2014.

Agents told Chattanooga’s News Channel 9 that Redden “sold, took for himself or returned to the original owner three of the department’s seized vehicles.”

The Chattanoogan reported $4,128 in seized money also went missing.

The audit did not say whether Redden or his replacement were involved in misusing the seized car. City officials told auditors they returned the car to the police department and plan to sell it.

As reported, state Comptrollers cited the Wartburg Police Department for a similar incident in 2014. In that case, Wartburg Police seized a BMW sedan after arresting its owner on narcotics charges; according to an audit, the police captain’s wife used it at her home and for personal reasons.

Asset forfeiture laws, writes Forbes, are “institutional corruption” that have led to police misconduct in several states.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org 

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