By Greg Gullberg
Feb. 20, 2013
Echols Co., GA - A lot of sheriffs are going to be in Georgia's state capitol Thursday. They're standing firmly against a bill that would diminish their ability to seize the property of criminals.
"We adamentally oppose the passing of this bill because it would affect not only us but every police agency in the state negatively," said Randy Courson, Echols County Sheriff.
You'd be hard pressed to find a Sheriff who isn't set firmly against a new bill circulating the Georgia state capitol. "House Bill One" would make it more difficult for law enforcement to seize and condemn the property of criminals.
"When you hit them in the pocket book and you start seizing assets, property, vehicles, anything of monetary value you hit them in the wallet and that usually does a lot of damage and puts them out of business," Sheriff Courson said.
Sheriff Courson has proven especially aggressive against drug dealers cooking meth in his county. The search and seizure laws enable them to take the land, houses, and once even a Harley Davidson from convicted criminals.
"We do silent bids and people submit their bids on seized equipment."
And the proceeds go right back into the community, if not the property itself. He showed us one truck that was confiscated from a drug dealer in the County that the sheriffs department re-purposed for the Tax Assessors office.
The aim of House Bill One is to protect the rights of citizens, even if they are convicted criminals and to ensure law officials aren't abusing their power.
The bill goes before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon. Sheriff Courson assures us there will be a strong turnout to voice their opposition.
If the bill passes Thursday, it will go to the House Rules Committee and could possibly find itself in front of the full house as early as next week.
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