LPL Investigates Use of Civil Asset Forfeiture by Chicago Police

Chicago Police seize money from residents and use it to purchase surveillance technology and continue the war on drugs

Lucy Parsons Labs, in collaboration with local journalist Joel Handley and the Chicago Reader, has published an investigation of the use of civil asset forfeiture by Chicago Police. In the story, which you can read in full on the Chicago Reader’s site, we show how Chicago Police seize millions from citizens not necessarily convicted or even charged with a crime. We also show how they use this money to fund the operations of their narcotics units and buy controversial surveillance equipment.

We’ll be continuing to request expenditures to keep track of how Chicago Police are using asset forfeiture monies, and updating our data which you can see here:

Launch LPL Narcotics Audit Data

Acknowledgements: The FOIA requests were mostly done through, and we’d like to thank Michael Morisy for Muckrock’s support of our project. We’d also like to thank the many FOIA requestors that submitted a request on our behalf. Finally, this work would not be possible without the hard work of the volunteers of Lucy Parsons Labs. In particular we want to thank:

  • @avidhacker, one of our data visualizers
  • Candice Ahlstrand, one of our document wranglers
  • John Bumstead, our FOIA commander