COVINGTON -- The Covington Police Department plans to spend some drug dealers' money.
Chief Stacey Cotton announced to the Covington City Council recently that he will upgrade the department's record management server and will be using forfeited drug funds to make the purchase.
Cotton pointed out in a letter to the Council that the department has been sharing a server with the Covington/Newton County 911 Center, also purchased in 2002 with forfeited drug funds.
"Now this server is at the end of life and has reached its capacity for memory," Cotton stated. "Our IT support vendor VC3 has proposed an upgrade to a SANS server that is not only large enough to meet our current needs, but it will be expandable with our future growth."
The upgraded server will cost $133,358.28.
CPD Capt. Ken Malcom said the forfeited funds come from major drug dealers and have been seized and condemned by the courts as being proceeds of a criminal enterprise.
"Seizing the funds is not easy to do. There is a process that is a fair process and it goes to court and the courts have to award that money back to the department," he said. "We make an accusation, similar to a criminal accusation against a person, and if we can prove that money is a benefit of the criminal enterprise, it can be awarded back to the department that initiated the seizure."
Malcom said the funds can be used for equipment purchases or for items that are not routinely part of the department's operation budget.
He said usually the funds are derived from seized vehicles and cash, rarely houses.
"Houses can be seized and condemned, but that does not happen as much as vehicles and cash. When you seize a home, most of the time there is still an outstanding mortgage on the home," he said. "In order for law enforcement to benefit, the house has to be sold and any liens against the house cleared up."