Nebraska forbade cops from stealing cash from motorists, but a loophole let them carry on doing it

Seward County has become Nebraska's capital of "civil forteiture," in which Sheriffs deputies pull over out-of-state motorists, confiscate any cash they find, and send them on their way without charging them with crimes. Though the state banned the practice years ago, a loophole in the law's wording effectively nullifies it and there's little point fighting to get the money back because local courts won't give it to you.

In the past decade, Seward has seized money in at least 90 state civil forfeiture cases, nearly double any other Nebraska county. In those cases, they initially seized a total of $2.2 million from motorists. Drivers rarely fight to get their money back. Those who do rarely win, according to court records. The $2 million kept by the county was split. Half went to a state fund for schools. Half went to a county fund overseen by a board of police chiefs, the Nebraska State Patrol, the county attorney and the sheriff. Records from meetings of that board, held at a Pizza Kitchen in Milford, detail how they decided to spend the seized dollars.They bought stun guns and bulletproof vests for the Seward and Milford Police Departments. They bought a sheriff's cruiser with the words "Paid for by drug proceeds" emblazoned on the back. They bought an $18,000 drone for the Nebraska State Patrol. And they recently spent $15,000 on two ballistic shields, bought after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Thieves, plain and simple. The deputies doing it, the Sheriffs running it, and the judges rubber-stamping it all know what they are up to.