Asset disclosure bill might replace forfeiture ban in Colorado

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A state senator who wanted to ban Colorado police departments last session from profiting from civil forfeiture in certain cases is now considering a proposal that would require departments to report such seizures and whether charges were subsequently filed.

State Sen. Laura Woods, R-Arvada, last session proposed a bill to stop police departments from profiting from seized goods and cash if they weren’t going to prosecute the owner for crimes.

“Guilty people will lose the fruits of their crimes, but innocent people will get their assets back,” she told last session. But the bill, facing serious police opposition, died. Woods was planning to revive the legislation in the 2016 session, but sent out an email Wednesday saying she still can’t find a consensus on the proposal.

“We found some areas of agreement, and still lots of areas of opposition,” she wrote Wednesday.

Instead, Woods is now looking at legislation that would require police departments to report asset seizures and whether the person whose property was taken was charged with any criminal offenses.

“If we gather the data into a database the legislature can see, department by department, what is seized specifically, the value of that item, the charges filed, the disposition of the charges, and the disposition of the seized asset, then we’ll have a better handle on what reform should look like,” her email said.

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