Criminals foot the crime-fighting bill

Bethlehem's asset forfeiture fund allows timely purchases, including new sidearms

— This means the forfeiture fund can swell suddenly.

“Just one [traffic] stop changes everything,” Corsi said.

During a period between 1989 and 2009, nearly $11 billion in assets is estimated to have been seized by law enforcement nationwide.

In many instances, a local police department will coordinate on investigations with other agencies, including federal entities like the DEA, FBI or U.S. Marshals. In these cases, any assets eventually seized are split up between the agencies based on a formula weighted on the degree of the involvement from the various agencies. The district attorney's office oftentimes receives funds under such a mechanism.

“If we work together and develop information and bring it to a federal agency...and there is a seizure through the U.S. Attorney, Bethlehem would be entitled to a percentage of that seizure,” Corsi said. He added that with new information sharing technologies and practices such cases have become more common in recent years.

Bethlehem officers to rearm

When it comes to the new sidearms, the department will also be saving a bundle by trading in its old Glock 22 and 27 models. Those Glocks were purchased 19 years ago and are wearing out. Earlier this year, the department's firearms specialist advised that the weapons were showing signs of metal fatigue. A pistol is a piece of equipment officers need to work the first time, every time, so the decision was made to cycle the equipment as soon as possible.

After about five months of testing and research, the department settled on the Smith & Wesson M&P45, a firearm Corsi said the department's command “absolutely fell in love with.” He described the pistol as being at the pinnacle of current craftsmanship and adaptability. The M&P45 can be fitted with “backstraps” right out of the box to customize the grip's fit to individual officers, for example, and Smith & Wesson offers a wide range of customization options for each firearm (police declined to discuss the specifics of how the force's new sidearms will be configured).

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