Hundreds flock to police auction

By TESS HOLLIS thollis@ledger-enquirer.com

Hundreds of people gathered in the heat on Saturday for the annual Columbus Police Department auction.

The auction started at 9 a.m. and lasted until the last item was sold. Crowds gathered in the west parking lot and the parking deck of the Columbus Public Safety Center.

Rick Stinson, a special agent for the Metro Narcotics Task Force, said the auction is held every year and the money from purchases is put toward three different departments.

Stinson said he didn't know yet how much money they raised this year, but last year the total was about $120,000.

The most expensive item sold at Saturday's auction was a 2003 Acura 3.2 TL. Wayne Evans Auction Co. said the car sold for $9,000. All cars at the auction were sold. Other items for sale included TVs, furniture, jewelry, cell phones and weights.

Most of the property comes from drug seizures and raids by the Task Force. Stinson said the Task Force is a self-supporting unit, in that taxpayers do not pay for their equipment and training.

"We use this money to pay for equipment we need like cars, or even money we use to buy drugs in drug busts," he said. "The only thing paid for from the department is our salary."

Anything that can be a proceed in a drug raid is seized, Stinson said.

"Sometimes during drug deals, instead of giving or receiving money for the drugs, people will give or receive their property," he said. "That's where a lot of this stuff comes from.

The auction was started in 1989 as a departmental effort, and grew into an effort for the entire department. The auction has been going on every year since then.

Agents with the Task Force were on hand all day to help with the auction and grill food for people who attended. Police Capt. Bill Turner was in charge of the event.