New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (Photo: New Mexico Government)

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (Photo: New Mexico Government)

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law Friday a measure aimed at barring law enforcement from seizing money, cars or other types of property from people on civil grounds during an arrest or traffic stop on suspicion the property was connected to a crime.

The civil asset forfeiture legislation, House Bill 560, was approved unanimously by both the New Mexico House and Senate but Martinez did not act on the measure until today, her final day to sign or veto bills passed during the 60-day session, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

In an executive message explaining her decision to sign the bill, Martinez said that as a former prosecutor she understands the importance of protecting constitutional rights and innocent property owners.

However, the Republican governor took issue with the term “policing for profit,” which backers of the legislation have used to describe civil asset forfeiture.

“… I must make it clear that ‘policing for profit’ is an overused, oversimplified and cynical term that, in my opinion, disrespects our law enforcement officers,” Martinez wrote, adding the catch phrase impugns the motives of police officers.

The practice of civil asset forfeiture has funneled millions of dollars and property to state and local law enforcement agencies, some of which sent letters to the governor asking her to veto the legislation.

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