In less than six months, the Norman Police Department has seized more than $108,000 in cash, weapons, vehicles and other assets related to drug and weapons investigations. The year-to-date total revenue for seizures for Fiscal Year 2016 stands at $175,954. Most of the cases are marijuana related.
A Norman Leaks investigation confirmed that only 8 of recorded incidents from June 2015 to present were tied to methamphetamine possession. Only three cases involved cocaine possession. 2 cases involved LSD. Only 1 case mentions mushrooms as seized contraband. A review of OSCN records revealed that only one case involved possession of heroin.
Only one forfeiture case from 2015-2016 cites possession or distribution of paraphernalia as the main offense. That case was the undercover sting operation targeting Friendly Market owner Robert Cox and Ward 7 City Council Member Stephen Tyler Holman. In that series of undercover investigations led by narcotics officer Rick Newell, NPD seized at least $3,584 cash in addition to thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.
According to documents provided by the City of Norman, so far NPD’s seizures total more than $175,954 for FY 2016. That’s nearly a 75 percent increase over seizure revenues over the totals for FY’96. In 1996, NPD took in just $43,801 in revenue from seizures.
While seizure revenues have been down in last three years, a 20-year review of NPD’s asset forfeiture cases obtained through an Open Records Act request reveals that asset forfeiture cases have risen fairly steadily since 1996.
In FY 2013, NPD seizure revenues peaked at $511,644. Historically, totals have been lower. In FY’12 seizure revenues totaled $152,078. In FY’14 seizure revenues amounted to $272,449. In FY’15, $287,983.
In FY’04, seizures hit a low of $21,422. Seizure revenues have not dropped below the six digit figures since FY’08.
The City of Norman’s Seizure and Restitution fund supplements the police department budget and also funds the juvenile intervention services contracted out to Crossroads Youth and Family Services.
The Norman Police Department represents the largest percentage of the city’s General Fund expenditures at 28%. The Public Works Department comes in second at 22%. Norman Fire Department is a close third at 20%.
Norman’s Seizures and Restitution fund is maintained as a separate account from the general fund and is earmarked to provide support for police services. The juvenile program funded from a separate account with revenues from fines and penalties coming from the municipal juvenile court.
City records on seizure fund expenditures show that much of the revenues are spent on travel, meals, and per diems for training and conference attendance.
In 2014, NPD narcotics officers including Newell and other undercover investigators racked up about $5,605 in expenses attending the A-ONE (Association of Oklahoma Narcotics Enforcers) conference held in Catoosa, Oklahoma at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
In addition to having their registration, room & board covered, the 6 attendees also received a $230 per diem out of a petty cash account. The $5,605 spent on the A-ONE conference represents roughly 17% of NPD’s total amount spent on training and conferences funded through seizures in FY’15.
NPD has named one of their certified K-9 officers “Kilo.”