Police efforts to fight drug dealing in Provo could not only pay big dividends but also save residents money.
The law allows enforcement agencies that participate in drug investigations to share cash and property confiscated in those investigations. This year the Provo Police Department anticipates as much as $100,000 worth of property and cash may be picked up; already, $25,000 in cash, a home in Sherwood Hills, a pickup truck and a boat have been confiscated.Capt. Jerry Markling said the department plans to use the money to buy expensive electronic surveillance equipment that will enhance its investigative efforts.
"We are shifting our enforcement efforts toward bigger dealers who are usually in possession of more cash due to drug sales and who also have more property which they did not obtain through legal sources," Markling said.
Although the City Council has appropriated that much money to the department from the city's general fund, Markling said, no money can be spent until it has been turned over to the city from the state following a drug investigation, arrest and conviction.
Any property confiscated in such investigations must belong to the person arrested, and debt owed on the property must be paid off before it can be sold by the city.
"We usually try to seize vehicles used in distribution, but if the liens on them are large we don't pursue them," Markling said. However, large-scale dealers typically have no or small liens on property in comparison to its value," Markling said.
"The taxpayers benefit because we can fund our operation using non-taxpayer money," he said.