QUINCY – A bloodhound named Ringo “with elite and tenacious tracking ability” is the Quincy Police Department’s newest addition.
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Police describe Ringo as passive and able to find missing people, especially children and the elderly. Police Chief Mark Kennedy said Ringo’s arrival is timely, noting that the need for finding missing people has increased in the city.
Ringo’s partner is police officer David Cooper, who recently traveled to South Carolina to complete Ringo’s training.
Money for Ringo’s training was provided through a process known as civil asset forfeiture.
What are civil asset forfeitures?
Civil forfeiture is the process through which police and prosecutors confiscate money and property connected to suspected drug crimes.
Some critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say the civil asset forfeiture law can be abused.
“Owners need not ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for their cash, cars or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government,” the organization states on its website.
Kennedy said there are checks in the system to prevent abuse.
“Everything is litigated,” he said. “We’re not taking property and money away from people who aren’t engaged in illicit drug sales. We’re taking that money and putting it to good use after it goes through the judicial process. It takes a long time. It’s not like we lock someone up tonight and we’re spending their money next week.”
The money is split between the local department and the district attorney’s office once a judge signs off on it.
Kennedy said his department has used forfeiture money to buy equipment and an updated command vehicle and to fund its drug control unit.
Kennedy said asset forfeiture money also eases the burden on local taxpayers.
Recently, asset forfeiture money allowed law enforcement to bring someone suspected of a 2023 murder in Germantown who had fled to Puerto Rico back to Massachusetts to face prosecution, Kennedy said.
Kennedy noted that some legislators have expressed interest in placing the money under state – rather than local – control, believing that local departments either aren’t spending the money or aren’t accounting for it.
“We keep records down to the penny on everything we spend asset forfeiture on,” he said.
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