Bipartisan Bill Forces Transparency in Law Enforcement

DENVER—Today, the Senate passed Senator Tim Neville's (R-Jefferson County) bill taking large steps to increase transparency in law enforcement procedure regarding civil forfeiture with overwhelming bipartisan support on a vote of 32-3. 

The legislation increases transparency and accountability by requiring that local law enforcement report on property acquired through civil forfeiture, which allows police to seize money or property that believe is associated with an alleged crime.  

Current procedure allows law enforcement to use a portion of the proceeds gained through civil forfeiture for department purposes. 

House Bill 1313 shines new light on this procedure by requiring all state law enforcement agencies report to the Department of Local Affairs on all cases of civil asset forfeiture. The Department is charged with aggregating and displaying  this information to its website in an easily searchable format. 

The database will disclose the reason for contact with law enforcement, the status of  there a pending investigation, a description of assets seized, and for what the proceeds are being used.

The bill provides protection for law enforcement, ensuring new reporting requirements do not force any unnecessary divulging of sensitive information that could compromise an investigation or confidential informant. 

HB 1313 also limits local law enforcement from sharing funds from forfeitures in the course of a Joint Task Force or multijurisdictional operation to cases that involved a seizure of $50,000 or more, requiring forfeitures under that amount to follow state forfeiture procedures. 

These procedures provide protections for Coloradans, ensuring that all citizens receive the due process they are constitutionally guaranteed. 

"Colorado's men and women in blue take on a tremendous responsibility in their service to our state, and we should lend them every tool in our arsenal to ensure that they are able to continue to perform their duties and keep our communities safe," said Neville. "Whenever we can come together in a bipartisan fashion to strengthen constitutional rights for Coloradans and increase transparency and accountability in government, we are achieving exactly what Coloradans have tasked us with as public servants."

HB 1313 now moves to the governor's desk. 

 

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