Sheriff opposed to House Bill 1 - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Sheriff opposed to House Bill 1

Sheriff Bobby McLemore, Ben Hill County Sheriff Bobby McLemore, Ben Hill County
FITZGERALD, GA (WALB) -

State lawmakers are discussing a bill that could make it harder for law enforcement agencies to keep money and items they seize from criminal suspects.     

This is the second year in a row that the Georgia Sheriffs Association has led the fight against House Bill 1.  Ben Hill County Sheriff Bobby McLemore says it could cost taxpayers more and make it harder for law enforcers to do their jobs.  

These cars, guns, and advanced technologies were either seized or purchased by the Ben Hill County Sheriff's office through the Georgia Uniform Civil Forfeiture Procedure Act.  

"Civil Asset Forfeiture which is our current law is one of the greatest tools law enforcement has had in thirty years," said Sheriff Bobby McLemore.  

House Bill 1 could change that. It would make it harder for law enforcement agencies to seize assets from drug deals and other illegal activities.  

"We oppose this bill because it's too complex and it lends itself more to the criminal and defense attorney than it does to law enforcement," said Sheriff McLemore.      

Sheriff's offices use the money seized for law enforcement training and to purchase equipment not covered in their budget. Sheriff McLemore used seized money to purchase this microscope used to test marijuana and this computer that has a built in camera to interview suspects.

"This is what we call a bug, we use it in drug buys and surveillance. We can actually record and video everything that's going on during a drug transaction," said Sheriff McLemore.   

This sub-gun was also purchased to help agents during drug raids.  

"When a bill keeps us from doing our job in protecting the citizens of Georgia, naturally we're going to oppose it," said Sheriff McLemore.    

As president of the Georgia Sheriffs Association, Sheriff McLemore has called state lawmakers to express the group's opposition. He says the association may make another trip to the Capitol to make sure they keep this tool they say helps them protect and serve the citizens of Georgia. Sheriff McLemore says you can voice your opinion on the bill by calling your state legislators.

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