Sheriff to use seized money to buy plane


The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a request by the Sheriff's Office to purchase a $700,000 airplane using money seized during criminal investigations.

The agency plans to buy a single-engine 2012 Cessna 206, which will replace an aging 1980 Cessna 206, an outdated model that has become too noisy for suburban, semi-rural surveillance, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The cost is $682,731 for the plane, plus $31,013 in add-ons such as communications equipment and high-resolution cameras.

The plane will primarily be used by the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force for surveillance operations in drug cases, although it will be made available to any regional law enforcement agency in need of an aerial resource, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The sheriff's plane is also a "priceless resource" when used in search-and-rescue operations, the Sheriff's Office said in a letter to the board. Between July 2010 and June 2011, the sheriff's current aircraft was used in 158 operations.

Any purchases made by law enforcement agencies with money seized during criminal investigations need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. The department's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section called the purchase of the new airplane a "permissible expenditure," according to the Sheriff's Office.

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Like this comment
Posted by susan smith
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm

This is outrageous. The county is operating at a deficit, service3sare being reduced, it costs a fortune to become a Supervisor and now we are buying an airplane? For what? Shame on this ridiculous expenditures. Crazy.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Susan, you know that the war on drugs must be funded & defended on every possible level & having a plane is one of those levels. Of course, no one can criticize its use for search & rescue like they can for the war on drugs. Wonder if the sheriff will make any side trips to bordellos? Wonder if those monies could be used for something else in law enforcement that is of better use? We don't know, because no other options have been reported & most of us don't even know how the seized money allocation works.

Like this comment
Posted by confict of interest
a resident of James Flood Magnet School
on May 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Using seized money to buy toys.

No possible conflict there.

Can't imagine there will be any motivation to bend the rules to seiaze more.

"SC County third highest for exonerated convicts"


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm

This is so typical of how we do things in San Mateo County.

Was there any public discussion about this money and where it might be able to be used?

Was there any discussion to weigh the pros and cons of a fixed wing aircraft vs. a Helicopter.

How many residents even knew our Sheriff Office had an airplane? I didn't, and I been to several local air shows with no SMC aircraft.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Mr. Stogner - do you know what the guidelines might be regarding the allocation of seized funds? My limited understanding is that the money "belongs" to the seizing agency post-adjudication. But I don't know if that's a law or how it works. Maybe Menlo Voter knows & will weigh in.

I did know that the S.O. had a plane - but I never thought of it as belonging to the sheriff, but to the agency, used largely by their NTF (which used to sell shirts & sweatshirts saying "Bootin' Bad Boys, which I thought was funny - before the current sheriff was in power). For all I know, the funds raised by their sale was used to fuel the plane!

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Yawn. Happens all the time. This has been going on since the 80's when the laws were created to seize money and property supposedly earned by the sale of drugs. How do you think SJPD and other agencies pay for their helicopters?

Like this comment
Posted by Yawn
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on May 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm

How do you people think that the sheriff is supposed to get to an from Las Vegas!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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