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Jacksonville Lawmaker: Police Shouldn't Take Money Without Arrest

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A Jacksonville state senator is pushing to change a state law that allows police to take people’s personal property when they suspect it’s connected to a crime — even if the person is never arrested. Jacksonville Republican Aaron Bean says it’s time to overhaul the system known as civil-asset forfeiture.

Bean says civil-asset forfeiture doesn’t happen to most people. But he says he’s heard from more than one person in the district whose property was seized by police. For one, a man was on his way to an auction with $2,000 in cash when he was pulled over.

“’Well obviously,’ the law enforcement says, ‘That’s part of money that could be going to a drug operation or something. I’m going to take it, I’m going to seize and hold it, and if you want it back, you go before a judge,’” Bean said.

He says it can be a costly, lengthy process that doesn’t always end in getting the seized property back. His bill would mandate an arrest must happen before property can be seized.

He says he’s working with law enforcement including Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, to refine the proposal.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP