The Washington Post
conducted a lengthy investigation into a practice that has become more prevalent in the years following 9/11: Local law enforcement departments across the country have seized millions of dollars from individuals who haven't been charged with a crime, and without a warrant.
The investigation found that thousands of people have pursued legal action to get their money back, a process that typically would last more than a year.
In Michigan, since 2011, WaPo found law enforcement agencies have conducted 797 seizures for a total of $47.7 million. The office most active in the practice, which can fall under state and federal law, is the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. Under the federal Equitable Sharing Program, Wayne's sheriff's office has participated in 530 seizures, for a total of $31.6 million, of which $13.6 million was sent back to the agency by the feds. It's unclear what the agency does with the reimbursement. Questions on that, and any known instances that have led to legal action, were not immediately returned.
Next on the Michigan list was Novi, whose the police department conducted 16 seizures, for a total of $7.5 million. The three-day series is a long read, but it's worth hitting every word.