A new investigative report by the Washington Post looks at what has happened with hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and contraband that police agencies throughout the country seize from Americans under federal forfeiture law.

The newspaper examined 43,000 reports dating from 2008 kept by the U.S. Justice Department as part of its Equitable Sharing Program.

Military style equipment obtained by departments nationwide under Department of Homeland Security grants has been the subject of news reports throughout the country — and in Hawaii — since the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, showed the gear being used in response to civil unrest.

Maui BearCat _ tank

The Maui Police Department’s BearCat.

Maui County

Since September, the Washington Post has been looking at this other source of police cash in its “Stop and Seize” series. Much of it comes from motorists and others who are simply stopped but not arrested or charged. The newspaper found that of $2.5 billion in seized cash and property 81 percent came from people who were never charged with a crime.

The story published Saturday includes a state-by-state breakdown of how much money has been spent by local police agencies under the program.

In Hawaii, that totals more than $4.5 million in the past six years with the biggest chunk — more than $2 million — spent by the Honolulu Police Department, the newspaper reports.

The paper doesn’t give details on Hawaii beyond general categories, but the breakdown shows HPD spent $1.4 million on communications and computers and $266,000 on community programs.

All together, police agencies throughout the state spent more than $250,000 for weapons and more than $80,000 for electronic surveillance.

Check out the full report here.


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