Cops, drugs and civil forfeiture

Composite image of man in chair, jewelry, cash and a house

Seattle-based journalist Eric Scigliano spent months digging into a legal process that allows police to seize and sell homes, money and other property they contend are connected to crimes, even when no charges are filed. Washington's civil forfeiture laws are among the nation's most favorable to police, and powerful police lobbies have knocked down legislative efforts to restrain them. Cities and counties in the state increasingly rely on forfeiture to underwrite policing, taking in $11.9 million in 2020, more than in any other year since 2005, even as the drug war winds down.