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Newton Sheriff Brown joins others in opposition to House Bill 1

CONYERS -- Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown has said he opposes legislation that would take control of seized and forfeited assets away from law enforcement agencies that seize them and give that control to the commissioners in the county where the property was seized. Commissioners would determine what law enforcement purposes were appropriate for the seized assets.

"I support the Georgia Sheriff's Association . We know best as to how to appropriate those funds. We've had no issues between the Board of Commissioners and ourselves concerning the use of those funds," he said.

Also, Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett came out against the legislation.

"I am joining other sheriffs and the Georgia Sheriffs' Association in opposing House Bill 1," Levett said in a statement. "The ability to seize unlawfully obtained money and assets is a great tool in combating criminal activity. House Bill 1 would change the seizure process by taking away my discretion of how the seized property may be used to further reduce crime in Rockdale County."

Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs' Association, said the legislation is "vigorously opposed by the sheriffs of Georgia."

"It effectively negates any need to seize the ill-gotten assets of hoodlums," he said.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, president of the Sheriffs' Association, wrote in a message on the Putnam Sheriff's Office website that a law enforcement agency's ability to seize property and cash in drug cases is one of the "most effective and valuable" tools to combat illicit drug activity.

"These laws have enabled us, after judicial processes are completed, to take the cars, cash and property of criminals," wrote Sills. "This, in the end, seems to be the only thing that really hurts them."

Sills points out that seized property and cash save taxpayers money and provide greater assets for crime-fighting to the law enforcement agencies.

"I can categorically say that the provisions of this bill will only benefit criminals and the lawyers who represent them," Sills wrote. " ... If it is passed, it will literally demoralize the law enforcement community to a point where we will see little public benefit in enforcing the law when it comes to drug dealers and other criminal entrepreneurs."

Newton Citizen News Editor Barbara Knowles contributed to this story.

Comments

dennistay53 1 year, 10 months ago

I agree with the Sheriff.s. These assets should be used by law enforcement to fight crime and drug dealers and not as a political tool for commissioners.

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Covingtonian 1 year, 10 months ago

I have always felt that by allowing the agencies who make arrests to keep the fruits of the crime whether it be money or possesions was a bad idea and could cause over zealous officers or agencies to abuse their authorty to gain the money or possesions..Although there are dumb criminals I find it hard to believe that anyone with a substantial amount of drugs in their possession would consent to a search. That final paragraph quoting the Putnam county sheriff in the article speaks volumes. What to do with the possessions? That needs to be researched further..

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Frustrated 1 year, 10 months ago

There are already laws and rules in place that tells what the money can and cannot be used for. Guess some county commissioner saw a way to get their hands on the money and asked his State buddy to help out.

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henrystamm 1 year, 10 months ago

I disagree with the Sheriff association. Traffic ticket income goes to the county as well as all other violation punished by the courts. Too much abuse is possible when money becomes an incentive. Just look back to Clayton Count, Victor Hill that says it all. Law enforcement is just that, to enforce the law, protect the people and not make money.

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Frustrated 1 year, 10 months ago

A Superior Court Judge must sign off on the forfeiture before the money goes to the agency. Its not like the police take the money and right away get to put it in their pockets.

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inthemiddle 1 year, 10 months ago

So how will the NCSO pay for much needed training and equipment when the BOC takes forfeited drug money (which was previously used for NCSO training and equipment) and wastes it on Mort's dairy farm, buying foreclosed properties, or making a park in a neighborhood?

And most drug task forces are federal / local conglomerates and are funded by a combination of federal and local monies but the locals usually break even due to seized assets. If the locals can't break even, then they are less likely to participate as that money being spent could b used on primary enforcement (patrol) rather than specialty enforcement? I can see the increase in drug crime now.

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