Police should donate confiscated products
Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2012 12:03
Two weeks ago, Orlando police were found using stolen electronics, including flat-screen televisions, Nikon cameras and new iPads worth $600 each, that had been confiscated after a shooting at a Target store more than a year ago, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Although this move has created much controversy, the action to give these electronics to members on the police force is not only legal but also practical.
As Police Chief Paul Rooney commented, these electronics were simply gathering dust in the evidence room, and rather than use taxpayers’ money in order to invest in new electronics, police can simply siphon off these devices after the required 60-day waiting period, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Yes, it may seem unfair that police have the right to pass around these goods within their department, but this was only done so after police tried to return the stolen property to its respective retailers – in this case, Target and Best Buy.
Police are not committing any illegal act with their decision to use stolen property, and this seems to be common knowledge easily overlooked. If the retailers will not accept them, where else should these items be placed? I agree that simply leaving them to gather dust unused in evidence is ridiculous, so we might as well find a way to use these items in a way that we can better our community.
What makes this decision appear in a bad light is the fact that police could be donating these stolen goods to charity or auctioning them off through such websites as propertyroom.com in order to raise money for charities or even the department itself. While I can see that the Nikon cameras could be put to great use by forensics experts and crime scene investigators, I highly doubt that the iPads given within the police force are going to drastically increase the success of Orlando police in fighting crime.
I find it a stretch when Rooney comments that the iPad “has helped him respond quickly to emails, review crime stats and read important meeting minutes, ultimately saving him time,” according to the Orlando Sentinel. It is hard to believe that an office computer wouldn’t perform just as well as the iPad on common administrative tasks such as answering emails and reading meeting minutes, so using this as a reason to implement these stolen goods within the department is a poor choice on the part of OPD.
Though the act of passing around these goods within the police force is legal, it is not the most admirable decision. We should be donating these items to organizations that can use them to their advantage, such as underfunded schools within Orlando or not-for-profit charity organizations that assist those without homes or without jobs. This move would prove to be a win-win scenario, as Orlando police would then be highly recognized as a respected force that places the needs of the community first, rather than one that simply circulates stolen items within their department for their own means.
In the end, it comes down to the fact that the more commendable decision would be to donate these goods to local charities, or auction them off in order to save some taxpayers’ dollars. While I can’t blame Orlando police for trying to find a way to implement these items on the job, rather than let them waste away in storage, donating or auctioning off these items will ultimately save Orlando police from the headaches of controversy.