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New State Forfeiture Law Cuts into New Mexico Agencies' Budgets

July 07, 2015  | 

A state law intended to prevent police from seizing money or assets from people unless they're convicted of a crime took effect this month, and law enforcement officials say it's going to cut deeply into their budgets.

Before House Bill 560 became law, most police departments and other local law enforcement agencies in New Mexico could auction items they had seized and use the revenue to pay for training or equipment. That process funds a fourth of the Region II Narcotics Task Force's operational finances each year — which was approximately $100,000, according to its director, Sgt. Kyle Dowdy.

But now, Region II will lose that money each year, and many other law enforcement agencies also will lose out. Under the new law, they're required to store seized items and then ship them to the state Treasurer's Office in Santa Fe or auction them locally. Either way, all the associated revenues are transferred to the state's general fund, reports the Daily Times.

And agencies won't be compensated for storage or shipment of seized items, an expense the Farmington Police Department hasn't yet calculated, Chief Steve Hebbe said. That is an unfunded mandate, he said.


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