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HB 1328: Make Cops Report All Property Seized from Bad Guys

Representative Aaron Aylward (R-6/Harrisburg) appears to have put a hoghouse bill to good use. After introducing House Bill 1328 as an empty bill on reporting certain seizures of property, Aylward came to House Judiciary last week to stuff that carcass with a proposal to shine a light on how much private property South Dakota cops are taking from accused bad guys and people associated with bad guys. Aylward isn’t shutting down this practice as authorized under SDCL Chapter 23A-49 or changing the burdens of proof, which allow the cops to establish mere probable cause and then require the targeted owners to prove the state shouldn’t take their stuff. But Aylward may throttle the practice with the bane of every TV-cop’s existence: paperwork!

As finally fleshed out last week, HB 1328 requires every law enforcement agency in the state give the Attorney General an annual report itemizing every stitch of property seized or forfeited under SDCL 23A-49. HB 1328 requires the Attorney General to then put all of that information online so we all can see which cop shops took what stuff from which people where, how much that stuff is worth, what criminal charges motivated the cops to take the stuff, whether the owners fought to get their stuff back, and where the stuff is now. Law enforcement agencies that fail to report within 30 days of the annual due date could face a fine of $500 or one quarter of the value of the stuff they seized, whichever is greater.

And in a really interesting assignment of power, Section 5 of HB 1328 empowers any elected official within the jurisdiction of a seizing law enforcement agency to request that the state auditor audit the records submitted to the Attorney General by her local cops. As written, this section appears to give any elected official this power: Governor, statewide constitutional officer (the Auditor could request himself to do an audit!), legislator, county commissioner, city commissioner, mayor, school board member, township officer, sanitary district trustee—if you’re elected and you’ve got cops, you can call for an audit of the assets they’ve seized.

The Attorney General also gets to charge law enforcement agencies a fee for filing their reports. That seems gratuitously nasty… but hey, how do the cops think citizens feel when the cops take their stuff?

The absence of reporting is one of the big gaps in South Dakota’s civil forfeiture law. Bad guys deserve to lose their booty, but the good guys should account for all the booty they seize to make sure they aren’t abusing their power.

HB 1328 got out of the House Tuesday on a 38–29 vote. It heads to Senate Judiciary.

11 Comments

  1. larry kurtz 2022-02-25

    Policing for Profit has allowed the Division of Criminal Investigation to provide military armaments for the law enforcement industry throughout South Dakota. South Dakota is rife with sobriety checkpoints, racial profiling makes I-90 a civil rights black hole and police just recently were stopped from forcing catheters into the urethras of the accused.

  2. Edwin Arndt 2022-02-25

    Civil asset forfeiture makes the police judge and jury. It totally stands our so called
    justice system on its head. People are not supposed to prove their innocence.
    The system is supposed to prove their guilt. At least, in our “free” society.
    Civil asset forfeiture makes a mockery of due process.

  3. jerry 2022-02-25

    Wonder how much Miller and Thom seized. Makes sense for them to fight the marijuana laws as that is a huge source of income that has no accountability. Good law HB1328, that if passed, will probably go to the South Dakota Supreme Court to die.

  4. All Mammal 2022-02-25

    Furthermore, the cops have been able to take what they please even when no charges were brought against the individual, who still holds store receipts and proof of purchase of their belongings. They have done this by intimidating the owner by letting them know if they do raise a stink to get their stuff back, they will come up with charges and an arrest warrant. For whatever they can come up with I’m guessing. I’m sure there are not a whole lot of us who can honestly say that if one were to look super hard, there would not be something in their possession or daily activity that could be construed as illegal. And I don’t think there is even a standard of operations for returning guns. On an occasion I was stopped in my driveway, (I do live in a neighborhood and look a certain way to make it very hard to have no contact with police) my concealed weapon and myself were detained and when the officer released me he told me to go inside my house and wait ten minutes after he left to come out and retrieve my Colt pistol from the table on my porch!? An expensive, loaded firearm was to be left unattended. Crazy. I just figured it is that rare to actually give someone back their property that they didn’t have a procedure for it. Ie: unload the weapon, take out the magazine, lock the slide open and hand it back.

  5. Bob Newland 2022-02-25

    Aaron seems to be struggling to do something halfway worth what we’re payin’ him for. The problem with civil asset forfeiture is its very premise that property committed a crime, but because it’s property and not a person, it has no constitutional right to due process.

    Keeping track of what LEOs steal from people is not a bad idea, it just misses the mark.

    On the other hand, it’s nice to see Aaron venturing outside of, if only barely, the Nation of Gilead.

  6. Cathy B 2022-02-25

    Someone needs to put another hoghouse bill to good use by establishing a way to find out if Putin & his friends have assets in trusts in South Dakota. Or how are their assets going to be frozen?!

  7. cibvet 2022-02-25

    The civil forfeiture law has been nothing short of a windfall for law enforcement since its inception. If you have something they want, it merely takes a suspicion and then property is confiscated, and they all share the bounty if it can be kept off the books. Yes, a person can hire a lawyer, spend thousands of dollars to retrieve your property and it cost the lawman nothing. Crappy legislation at best.

  8. Mark Anderson 2022-02-25

    You know, this one goes way back. When some of my friends from SDSU of all places drove to a concert in Minneapolis. They got stopped by cops and one of the cops said to my friend, ” we know you’ve got dope in your car, give us half and we’ll let you go. The negotiation was Putin like, but both sides ended up happy.

  9. RST Tribal Member 2022-02-25

    Inept + inbred + republicans = governance of incompetence by incompetents for the selective few incompetents. The rest of us are along for the ride.

    In November 2022 maybe the voters can hoghouse the inept inbred Republicans in Pierre. and Washington. They are a shell waiting for Noemie, trumpie and now putinie (a bit harsh but most probable with trust funds hidden by the state) to provide direction or substance to their emptiness. One wants her people to be obedient and to be America’s Governor. The other two are attempting to overthrow democratic governments.

    The language in HR 1328 is just words to provide a point. Maybe a relative or friend got something done to them. The act of hoghouse is a chicken poop method of governance to give a cover of intent up to the final days of the legislative session. This bill could get stalled as it reaches far and holds law enforcement accountable in a state where the head of law enforcement can run over someone only to pay a few dollar fine. The insurance deductible was probably more then the fine.

    November 2022 could be hoghouse time.

  10. Kurt Evans 2022-02-25

    Kudos to former Libertarian Party state chair Aaron Aylward, and to the Dakota Free Press community for the post and comments above.

    As I’d noted five years ago in my comments at the following link, civil asset forfeiture is a stench in the nostrils of justice, and its corrupting effect on good law enforcement officials is an underemphasized argument against it:

    https://dakotafreepress.com/2017/02/09/trooper-steals-69668-from-drug-bust-evidence-sentence-comparable-to-bollens/

  11. larry kurtz 2022-02-28

    As hypocrisy reigns supreme at the highest levels of power in South Dakota residents endure Policing for Profit and civil forfeiture so the sitting governor can crow about her leadership and self-reliance while moral hazards pay the bills. South Dakota would rather spend money on bad cops than on good teachers. Kill video lootery alone and the need for all that police interdiction becomes a fraction of what it is now. South Dakota’s Division of Criminal Investigation has revealed multiple unlawful practices and questionable activity throughout the Flandreau Police Department.

    https://moodycountyenterprise.com/article/tribal-medical-marijuana-cards-leading-to-arrests

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