In the United States, police are meant to serve and protect.
Yet, as John Oliver revealed over the weekend, police have been engaging in a form of legalized theft for years, and Americans have barely noticed.
This practice is known as civil forfeiture, and it essentially means cops charge people's property with a crime and seize it in the process.
According to Oliver,
The way civil forfeiture generally works is that if the police believe that they have a preponderance of the evidence that suggests your property was or could be used in a crime, they may confiscate it... ... You don't need to be charged with a crime, because it's not you that's on trial, it's your stuff.
Your property remains guilty until you prove its innocence.
Due to the fact that the law essentially allows police to keep the profits from these seizures, they have strong incentives to perpetuate this practice.
Don't be surprised if a cop pulls you over and asks if you have any cash in the vehicle -- it happens a lot.
Through this practice, police have taken billions of dollars from Americans without even charging them with a crime. They have seized automobiles and even homes. There are also no substantial limitations on how the police choose to spend the seized money.
As Oliver puts it,
That is the sort of police behavior that we laugh at other countries for.