Detroit Police: New Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Will Have Minimal Impact on Operations

The civil asset forfeiture laws passed earlier this year would institute higher requirements on the controversial practice, but Detroit Police don’t expect dramatic changes.

The Detroit Police Department said new laws regarding civil asset forfeiture will have a minimal impact on their street-level operations during last Thursday’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting, according to notes produced through WDET’s Detroit Documenters program.

Legislation signed in May by Governor Gretchen Whitmer regulates how law enforcement agencies could seize assets in certain drug cases, including requiring a conviction or property value must exceed $50,000, excluding the value of contraband. Police must also send a notice to the person charged with a crime and the property owner if assets were seized without a court order and are $50,000 or less, allowing them to file a written claim of interest in reclaiming the property within 20 days after receiving notice.

“As far as this impacts department operations, it has little if any impact how we conduct forfeiture operations.” – Captain Michael Parish, Detroit Police Department

But Captain Michael Parish, who presented on civil asset forfeiture at the Commissioner’s meeting, said the department was already giving notice and has a high conviction rate for drug crimes. Close to 90 percent of defendants involved in these types of cases end up pleading guilty.

Click here for Detroit Police Department’s presentation on civil asset forfeiture (PowerPoint download)

“As far as this impacts department operations, it has little if any impact how we conduct forfeiture operations,” said Parish

It is unknown what the overall financial impact may be on the department, although it was brought up during the Police Commissioner’s board meeting that the department heard figures that asset seizures could be reduced between 10 and 40 percent. 

WDET’s Detroit Documenters program is a collaboration with CitizenDetroit and Chicago’s City Bureau to pay city residents to attend city meetings and take notes. 

The next Board of Police Commissioner’s meeting is Thursday, August 29th at 3:00 pm at Public Safety Headquarters, 1301 Third Street in Detroit.


  • Eleanore Catolico
    Eleanore Catolico is Civic Reporter with 101.9 WDET, covering local affairs with the Detroit Documenters program. She enjoys techno.