Beacon’s statement on the passage of policing for profit reforms

April 17, 2013 2:26PM

Statement from the Beacon Center on Passage of Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill:

The Beacon Center of Tennessee today commended the unanimous passage of legislation to limit the controversial practice of policing for profit. The Beacon Center has called for several reforms to these laws, which allow police officers to seize Tennesseans’ property even if they have no proof that a crime has been committed. This has led to disturbing seizures of cash and other personal property on highways across Tennessee.

Sponsored by Rep. Barrett Rich (R-Somerville) and Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), HB1078/SB891 prohibits ex parte hearings when property is seized under the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws. Currently, court hearings to determine whether seizures were legal are conducted with only the police officer present, and often without the knowledge of the property owner.

“Policing for profit flies in the face of core constitutional principles,” said Beacon Center Director of Policy Trey Moore. “Allowing citizens who become ensnared in this questionable practice to have their day in court is a much-needed first step toward the protection of property rights.”

In March, the Beacon Center published a policy brief outlining the problems with policing for profit, offering several solutions including the one that passed the legislature this week. Read the entire brief, titled The Perils of Policing for Profit, here.