Law Enforcement Forfeiture to Congress

December 20, 2017
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader
The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Vice Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Richard Shelby
Chairman, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science
The Honorable Jeane Shaheen
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science
United States Senate

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Chairman Cochran, Vice Chairman Leahy,
Chairman Shelby, and Ranking Member Shaheen:

We write to urge the Senate to reject the House-adopted amendments (H.Amdts. 126,
129, and 130) to the CJS title of the prospective FY 2018 omnibus appropriations bill
(HR 3354) that would roll back important civil asset forfeiture accountability reforms that
the Attorney General put in place this past summer.

Former Attorney General Holder issued an order in 2015 that restricted “adoptions” by
the U.S. Department of Justice of asset seizures made by state or local law
enforcement agencies. Attorney General Sessions replaced that order in June 2017
with a new directive and restored the ability for the Justice Department to proceed with
those “adoptions,” but with new safeguards. Significantly, Attorney General Sessions
introduced strict new conditions and expedited government processing of adoption
requests and the issuance of notice to property owners beyond what the law requires as
a part of resuming the process. The new directive imposed new accountability
requirements that would prevent law enforcement from depriving individuals of money
and property that has been legitimately obtained. The House-passed amendment to the
CJS title of HR 3354 would prevent the implementation of those reforms. The Fraternal
Order of Police, which is a signatory of this letter, raised this issue in a letter to the
President last month.

Civil asset forfeiture takes money out of the hands of criminal organizations every day.
At a time when violent crime is increasing in many parts of the country, and when more
than 60,000 Americans per year are dying by illegal drug poisoning – half of whom are
dying from poisons pushed into our communities by organized criminal organizations
who are in the drug trafficking business for financial gain – now is the time to strengthen
the ability for law enforcement to protect citizens. It is not the time to weaken the tools
like civil asset forfeiture that we use to disrupt and disable criminal enterprises.

We strongly urge the Senate to reject the House amendments to HR 3354 that would
roll back important asset forfeiture accountability reforms that the Attorney General put
in place last summer.

Sincerely,

Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies (ASCIA)

Federal Law Enforcement Officers’ Association (FLEOA)

Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)

International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)

Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA)

Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA)

National Alliance of Gang Investigators Associations (NAGIA)

National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies (NASDEA)

National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys (NAAUSA)

National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO)

National District Attorneys Association (NDAA)

National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition (NNOAC)

National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA)

Sergeants Benevolent Association – NYPD