|We should take the ill-gotten profits from prisoners and law-breakers, lawfully seized by police, and put the first 50% of these monies into school security programs--that's my opinion|
Forfeiture funds are public funds once seized.
And under Florida law there are specific uses for which these funds are appropriate.
The very first use in the statute is for school resource officer programs. But for reasons that are difficult to understand--not one dime of forfeiture funds in Escambia County has ever been used for the SRO program--an allowable use of these funds.
In fact--it almost seems as if every possible use for these funds has been found--except utilization to help schools. Look at this chart below. As of 2017--our local LETF is 97% utilized to fund outside organizations and to fund advertising and promotion of the sheriff's office. not one thin dime for schools....
I'm told a recent request from Washington High School for school hardening(entrance gates) from our LET fund was rejected by Sheriff Morgan. $5,000.00 for drug patches for probationers was also recently, forcefully rejected by the sheriff.
But the Opera, various balls, the little theater, the Alzheimer association, parties, golf tournaments, the heart association, and all kinds of other requests have been approved. Some of these organizations have an opaque connection to allowable uses for these funds, according to 932.7055.
I have asked hard questions about these expenditures, but overall these expenditures are not second-guessed.
Now, in the midst of Parkland, everyone is looking for funding to increase SRO and security personnel funding for schools.
Why not carve out the first 50% and make it mandatory that this go to the schools? This is my proposal that I brought to the Escambia BCC, .got approved 4-1, and sent to Gov. Scott and our delegation today
Now is the time for the state leaders to act. If our medium-small county of merely 310,000 people can generate a half-million dollars yearly on average in forfeiture funds (see chart above)--how much statewide is being generated? How much is funding SROs and school hardening? How much is being spent like Escambia County--on non-profits and other entities with a nebulous connection, at best, to contemplated uses of these funds?
So I brought forth this plan. Our commission approved it. I spoke to each of our legislative delegates. I hope this gains traction.
Because there is no reason why we (Floridians) cannot take the first 50% of this $30 Million Dollars Yearly funding source and use it to make our schools safer. And for the local sheriff's around the state, there will still be 50% left for you to use as you determine, subject to approval from your respective Board of County Commission.
But meanwhile--why would we not tap this non-taxpayer funded revenue stream first-before raising taxes or taking from some other program?