Holder Reins In Police Seizure of Cash, Property
Critics say old policy had been severely abused
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2015 4:55 PM CST
Attorney General speaks Eric Holder speaks in Cleveland in December.   (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

(Newser) – In what's seen as a major check on police abuses, Eric Holder today gutted a program that allowed state and local law enforcement to seize citizens' cash and property even when there was no evidence of a crime, reports the Guardian. The attorney general effectively ended the Equitable Sharing Program, which got its start in the 1980s during the "war on drugs." It allowed local cops to seize personal assets and keep up to 80% of them, with the remainder going to the feds. Reason describes it as an "incubator for police abuses."

The Washington Post published an investigative series about the program last year, revealing that "police have made cash seizures worth almost $2.5 billion from motorists and others without search warrants or indictments since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." Under the changes announced by Holder, police can seize assets only when they're related to "public safety concerns," including illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives, and property associated with child pornography. In other words, no more seizures of money and vehicles.