Meet Some Law Enforcement Officers Who Support Forfeiture Reform

Michigan Legislature should strengthen property rights

While many interest groups representing law enforcement employees oppose reforming civil asset forfeiture to require a criminal conviction before the state can take ownership of a person’s property, some law enforcement officers support the changes.

In the Traverse City Record-Eagle, reporter Kyle Kaminski gets comments from a variety of law enforcement officials about forfeiture generally and about a bill that would reform how it's used in Michigan. Here are the responses:

“It would be easier for us and more fair to those who are having their property forfeited to have a criminal conviction,” said Grand Traverse County Undersheriff Nate Alger. “Our system is based on being innocent until proven guilty.”

Attorney General Bill Schuette this week said conviction before [forfeiture] is a “good principle” to maintain.

County Prosecutor Bob Cooney noted most local forfeiture cases include a criminal conviction but said current laws force them to continue. “I wish the state would better fund narcotics teams and not incentivize them in any way to go after forfeiture dollars,” Cooney said. “At the same time, those laws were set up to take away profits from those selling illegal drugs. That’s the idea.”

“I’m a little concerned that by tying them to a criminal conviction, it’s going to bring me people who try to barter their way out of things,” Kalkaska County Prosecutor Mike Perreault said. “I could also see the argument then that we’re only prosecuting people to take their stuff.”

Stay Engaged

Receive our weekly emails!

Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel said “common sense” dictates police first need to prove someone guilty of a crime. “I know forfeiture is a huge asset, especially for drug enforcement teams. There’s never enough money to fund those things,” Schendel said. “But I like to err on the side of the people and the Constitution.”

The law enforcement officials are joined by others in their field who support the conviction requirement.

House Bill 4158 would do the following:

  • Require a criminal conviction, or plea agreement, prior to any forfeiture taking place for assets under $50,000.
  • Allow for exemptions for people who die, are deported or abandon their property.

This properly balances protecting innocent people’s property rights with enabling law enforcement to forfeit property that was either obtained with proceeds from illegal activity or used for illegal purposes.


Related Articles:

It’s Time for Michigan to End Civil Forfeiture

Criminal Justice Reforms Signed Into Law, More Left to Do

Michigan Man Cleared of Wrongdoing, Still Fighting Civil Forfeiture Years Later

Michigan Must Stop Keeping Peoples’ Property Without Conviction

Justice Clarence Thomas Takes a Broadside at Civil Forfeiture

Stay Engaged

Simply enter your email below to receive our weekly email:

Facebook
Twitter

Detroit Prep is a top-rated and economically and racially diverse charter school in the city. It's growth means it needs to move out from a church basement and into a new location. Nearby is a former Detroit Public Schools building, sitting empty for years. But, worried about competition, the public school district refused to sell. For years, district and local government officials in Detroit had worked to block public charter schools. They pushed legislation at the Michigan Capitol to hinder them, refused to sell to them, transferred surplus buildings from the district to the city government and imposed deed restrictions on property sales to private developers. All of it was aimed to hinder or even prevent charter school choice outside the confines of the Detroit school district.

Related Sites