The Tampa Tribune
Letters to the Editor
Respect property rights
In his op-ed “Florida’s successful Contraband Forfeiture Act is under attack in the Legislature” (Other Views, Feb. 17), Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd warns that an important civil forfeiture reform bill will cause taxes to increase. But that is simply not true.
Florida law already prohibits law enforcement from using civil forfeiture to meet their normal operating expenses. That is why, just like in the states that have passed similar reforms, this reform will have zero impact on taxes. It is also why tax-conscious groups, including Americans for Tax Reform, the National Federation of Independent Business and the James Madison Institute, all support the bill.
The bill would require the police to return seized property if the owner turns out to be innocent. This is a basic protection that Americans in many other states take for granted. In fact, most Floridians are shocked to learn that law enforcement in the Sunshine State can, and often does, seize and keep property belonging to innocent Floridians who have never been arrested, let alone convicted of any crime.
As Floridians, we expect our police to respect our property rights. We also ask that they know the law. Sheriff Judd is 0-for-2.