SOCIAL CIRCLE -- The Social Circle Police Department is looking for ways to put funds seized from illegal activity to good use.
According to City Clerk Susan Roper, the city has about $17,000 in state and federal forfeited funds, with more than $25,000 pending or ready to be processed. During its Oct. 19 public meeting, the Social Circle City Council approved opening two checking accounts to deposit the federal seized funds, in addition to the two the city already has open for the state seized funds.
Roper said that these funds must be kept separate from each other and accounted for separately. She requested to have an account for those pending seized funds and one for the actual forfeited funds.
"Currently, the city has $9,447.57 in the state pending account and $391.48 in the state forfeited account," Roper said in an e-mailed response to questions.
She added that the city has $16,609.37 in forfeited federal seized funds and $16,500 is in the hands of the U.S. Marshals Office/Drug Enforcement Agency for processing.
Tom Fox, director of the Social Circle Department of Public Safety, said later that state and federal seized funds are generated through traffic stops and arrests made within the city limits of Social Circle that result in the confiscation of drugs or money.
"Seizure laws are tools to deter criminal activity," Fox said. "The federal funds are from a national law enforcement initiative through the Department of Justice."
For example, he said, if an SCPD officer makes a traffic stop along Interstate 20 and discovers illegal drugs, those would be seized under state or federal laws. Once that case has been disposed of in court, the value of that contraband would be sent back to Social Circle.
"These funds are mainly used for the purchase of equipment or additional training for our officers ... the funds are used to enhance our law enforcement efforts in the city," Fox said.
The Public Safety Department's budget from Social Circle's general fund this year is $1.41 million.
Fox said he has not determined what the next purchase will be for the Public Safety Department with seized funds, but he is looking at a number of possibilities, including starting a K9 unit.
He said the city recently purchased with seized funds 15 microvideo/audio recorders for each SCPD officer to wear on his uniform.
"These assist the officers in the prosecution of crimes, and it also helps if we receive a complaint," Fox said. "Everything is documented and so it is also a protection for the officer and the department."