Thanks to an OnStar tip two years ago that led them to four pounds of powder cocaine and a quarter-million dollars, the entire Pleasant Grove (AL) Police Department was able to use asset forfeiture funds to become better equipped, reports AL.com .
Gerand Ratcliff, then 45, was arrested in November 2015 after OnStar alerted police to a possibly stolen vehicle in the 400 block of Fourth Terrace. The 2016 Cadillac Escalade had been reported missing from a car dealership in Vicksburg, MS.
Patrol officers went to the home and spotted the $75,000 SUV in the garage. They knocked on the front door of the house, and were hit with a cloud of marijuana smoke when Ratcliff opened the front door, Lt. Danny Reid said. The United Narcotics Investigations Team – made up of drug investigators from Pleasant Grove and Hueytown – responded to the scene. Ratcliff was detained, and police secured a search warrant for his home.
Inside, officers found cocaine, guns, drug dealing paraphernalia, and a safe containing $247,781.
Ultimately, Ratcliff pleaded guilty in federal court and admitted to selling drugs. Forfeiture of his seized property was part of the deal. “The police department has immediately put these funds to good use by purchasing much-needed equipment and providing vital training,” Reid said.
The funds have been used to buy Pleasant Grove PD new patrol cars, duty weapons for all officers, new patrol rifles in all of the police cruisers, a TASER for each officer, and enhanced body armor for all officers that is designed to stop rifle fire in the event of an active shooter. All police officers are also receiving trauma training, and trauma kits have been placed in all patrol cars.
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