TOPEKA — In Kansas, police can take your property if they believe it's connected to a crime without a conviction or charges. Law enforcement often gets to keep the property and decide how to spend the proceeds.
Now, Gov. Jeff Colyer has signed into law a bill that will require police to report what they take and how they use the seized property.
"This will allow us to better protect Kansan's property rights, while also ensuring law-enforcement have the tools they need to be effective," Colyer said in a statement.
The Legislature passed House Bill 2459 easily. The House approved it 110-7; the Senate passed it 39-0.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation will create a list of seizures that will include descriptions of the type of property and its estimated value, as well as whether related criminal charges were filed. The information must be posted to a public website.
By 2020, every law enforcement agency must begin reporting how they are spending seized assets. Critics of asset forfeiture say allowing police to freely spend what they seize is an incentive for more seizures.
Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, said the bill is a good first step, but that more sweeping changes are still needed.
"This bill has been a journey for me for several years since some of my constituents had come to me and said their property had been seized by law enforcement," Finney said.
Rep. Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson, said the changes will provide lawmakers with more data.
"From there we can draw conclusions and move forward with improved legislation in years to come," Wilborn said.