Police say New Mexico forfeiture reform leaves them short-changed


Civil rights activists hailed New Mexico’s ban on civil asset forfeiture, the infamous follow of police seizing property from suspects not convicted of any crime. Some cops fear the reform will harm the struggle on medication – and their backside line.

The new legislation took impact on July 1. Known as HB 560, it prohibits police from seizing a suspect’s property with out proof {that a} crime was dedicated. If and after they do seize property legitimately, the cops gained’t be capable of hold the income: all proceeds from auctioning off the forfeited items now should go to the state authorities in Santa Fe.

Agents of the Region II Narcotics Task Force, a multi-agency crew working out of the town of Farmington, are apprehensive the reform will reduce into their working bills. Approximately 1 / 4 of their $100,000 annual funds was funded by gross sales of seized property, Task Force director, Sgt. Kyle Dowdy, instructed the Farmington Daily Times.

Dowdy additionally mentioned the brand new state legislation sophisticated issues when it got here to federal guidelines requiring using seized property for legislation enforcement functions. “On one hand, you’ll have to break the state law, and on the other, you’ll have to break a federal mandate,” he mentioned. “And neither one of them you want to do.”

No police chiefs had been requested in regards to the influence of the legislation, or gave testimony to the legislature, mentioned Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe. Furthermore, the legislation requires native legislation enforcement to shoulder the expense of storing the seized gadgets and delivery them to Santa Fe.

“I don’t think that they anticipated how much it’s going to hit local law enforcement, and we’re still trying to figure out how bad it’s going to hit us,” Hebbe mentioned. As a consequence, he added, “We’re going to try not to seize.” The legislation’s supporters say that’s working as supposed.

“Should people’s property be seized and potentially even sold without there being a trial and proof of guilt?” requested Rod Montoya, Farmington’s consultant within the state legislature, including that the reply was “no.” When the HB 560 was up for consideration earlier this 12 months, nobody voted towards it. Governor Susana Martinez, a former prosecutor, signed it into legislation on April 10.

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