Advocates of a new law that requires Mississippi law enforcement report seized property say it's a good first step.
A new law that takes effect July 1, requires the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics create a public website listing the property seized by law enforcement agencies statewide, its value, and attempts to contest the forfeitures. Jameson Taylor is with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. He was on a legislative taskforce that studied the issue. Taylor says in some cases, it appears officers may seize items without due process.
"Some records of what's going on are just very spotty and we have seen seizures of weed eaters, and comic books, a couch, garden hoses, car batteries, all manner of things," said Taylor.
Taylor thinks the new law adds some transparency. Among the provisions, officers must obtain a warrant within 72 hours of seizing property. Nick Calico is President of the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer's Association. He says forfeited property is already recorded.
"It's going to take time away from the policing and patrolling of the streets because you're going to have someone collect that data and get it to the district attorney's office," said Calico.
K.C. Hamps, President of the Mississippi Sheriff's Association, supports the law.
"It's only transparency and transparency is needed anytime we're dealing with asset forfeitures and public funds," said Hamp.
The law doesn't require agencies report how they spend seized assets. Law enforcement agencies that don't comply won't qualify for state grants.