Dallas PD Wants to Use the Feds' Cache of Private Financial Info to Take Down Drug Dealers

Categories: City Hall, Crime

ChiefBrownFinancialTestimony.JPG
Dallas Police Chief David Brown didn't think his proposal to secure access to a federal database of private banking and financial information would be controversial. It sailed through the City Council's Public Safety Committee unopposed last week. Then again, that committee didn't have City Councilman Lee Kleinman.

"'The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,'" Kleinman began, reading from a copy of the U.S. Constitution at this morning's meeting of the City Council.

"I feel very strongly that this item is a violation of that," Kleinman continued. "I'm not in favor of having a law enforcement authority searching through financial records."

Brown said that civil liberties concerns are unwarranted. The database DPD is seeking permission to access -- the Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network -- has been providing law enforcement with information on suspicious transactions (e.g. those involving $10,000 or more) since 1990, though only after they prove probable cause and obtain a warrant. DPD already uses information from the database when it partners with the feds on high-level drug operations.

The feds aren't terribly interested in the networks of crack houses and front businesses that tend to be the problem in Dallas neighborhoods. But that's what Brown hopes to target with information from the FNEN. Sort of like the department did before budget cuts forced it to disband its money laundering unit in the mid-1990s.

"Think about the Al Capone rule," Brown told the council. "He didn't get taken to jail for racketeering. He got taken to jail for not filing his IRS taxes."

"This is a tool that will help us take down major drug organizations in our city," he added.

That wasn't quite good enough for Philip Kingston, who wanted more assurances the the financial information stored by the government is constitutional.

"I don't care if you can take down every drug dealer in this city," he said. "If you violate my civil liberties, it's illegal."

For most of the council -- everyone except Kingston and Kleinman, as a matter of fact -- Brown's confidence, plus some assurances from City Attorney Warren Ernst that allowing DPD access to the federal database seemed to be in line with the Constitution, was plenty.

Here's Vonciel Hill, rebuking Kleinman and Kingston:


I understand that to disrupt the drug activity in the part of the city that I represent, we need to follow the money. That's how you disrupt the drug dealers. I don't have drug cartels, but I do have on almost every block two or three drug houses.

It is not correct to say that with any constitutional right there is not a balancing act. There is. Every supreme court case every one that examines a constitutional right balances the constitional right against the public's interest in public's health and safety. My neighborhood, my part of the city has an interest in safety and getting rid of the dope houses, and I strongly suspect there is not a court in this country against my citizens.

Jerry Allen called it "naive...to think that our citizens would be put at some sort of risk," citing strong federal financial privacy laws.

Allowing access to the database carries an additional perk. Rather than having to split proceeds from crime-related seizures with the feds (they take 75 percent), DPD will be able to keep 100 percent, which Brown argued will take some of the onus off the City Council to increase funding for the police department.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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14 comments
ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Anyone else as amazed as I with Hill's sound bite on the news. "Anything they can do to get these drug houses..."

Is that her code word for car washes? What a farce.

Also, maybe silver lining. Catch jwp, atkins, hill, west, etc too.

Noneya
Noneya

Take away my plastic bags after a year of discussion, but take away my constitutional right to privacy after only an hour.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Almost any cash transaction can been deemed "suspect " .


Gangy
Gangy

I think they should check Vonciel's bank accounts for Patriots Crossing money.

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

" "naive...to think that our citizens would be put at some sort of risk," citing strong federal financial privacy laws."  I assume that Jerry Allen said that with a straight face.  Also, note the last paragraph for the real reason that Chief Brown wants this information.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Eric, it's FinCEN, not FNEN. I had to take the training class for work.  

WylieH
WylieH

Who's the guy standing behind Chief Brown-- he scares me.

WylieH
WylieH

[I strongly suspect there is not a court in this country against my citizens.]


I dunno, Vonciel Hill, are you SURE there's not a court in this country against your citizens?  Let me check.  Hmmm.... you're right--- there's not a single court in the country against your citizens--- therefore I must agree that DPD should have unfettered access to financial information on my private banking and financial information.

Thanks, Vonciel Hill, that argument was really persuasive.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Collecting financial data without probable cause that a crime has been committed is unconstitutional, given the text of the COTUS.  It takes a disgusting statist scumbag lawyer with a degree from Harvard or Yale to mis-read the COTUS as saying otherwise.


No need for more local LEOs to sully themselves by associating with jackboot federales or their tainted databases.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

When you see someone quote the Constitution, then you've probably got some tea-party Koch-brother type nut on your hands.

We've seen, through the investigations of the IRS targeting of these types that there's nothing to worry about With government institutions who have access and control over the common citizen, who, if they've done nothing wrong, have nothing to worry about.

(I should note that this entire post is cynical sarcasm, just to forestall lengthy explanations)

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@WylieH

He's probably the guy who wants the "data".

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  

Kleinman apparently didn’t get the memo.  The President changed that by Executive Order.  It now reads "'The right of xxxxxxxx Democrats to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,'"

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