Authorizes claiming authorities or agents to retain electronic, telecommunications or surveillance equipment or devices, computers, or office equipment for law enforcement purposes in civil forfeiture actions for the proceeds of a crime.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the civil practice law and rules, in
relation to authorizing a claiming authority to retain personal
property for law enforcement purposes
PURPOSE: This bill permits law enforcement officials to retain seized
property, such as electronic, telecommunications or surveillance
equipment or devices, computers, or office equipment that has been
seized and forfeited, after approval of the court, in order to utilize
such personal property for law enforcement purposes.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1: Amends Civil Practice Law and Rules section 1349 to add
property such as electronic, telecommunications or surveillance
equipment or devices, ox office equipment to items such as vehicles,
vessels, and aircraft which may be currently retained by state and
local law enforcement entities after forfeiture and used for law
EXISTING LAW: This valuable equipment cannot now be used by law
JUSTIFICATION: Under current law, any vehicle, vessel or aircraft
that is seized by and forfeited to a state or local law enforcement
agency as a "proceeds of a crime" may be retained by the seizing
jurisdiction, after court approval, and then used for such office's
law enforcement activities, The current law enhances the ability of
state and local law enforcement officials to combat crime, while at
the same time saving taxpayer dollars by avoiding the need to purchase
these expensive items. Further, if such items were auctioned off at
public auction, the proceeds received from such auctions are generally
much less than the market value of such assets or the price to
purchase such assets new. Further, there is a cost to auction off such
assets and costs are incurred to store such vehicles, vessels or
aircraft before such auction.
Law enforcement agencies often seize valuable electronic equipment
such as computers, video equipment, telecommunications or office
equipment, fax machines, and surveillance equipment such as night
vision goggles which are superior to the equipment used by police
agencies. Further, this equipment could be used to help combat crime
or reduce auto theft. Unfortunately, under current law, such
electronic equipment cannot be forfeited. Instead, this valuable
equipment must be auctioned off in accordance CPLR Article 51 at very
The auction process is slow and costly, and produces only a fraction
of the value of the goods, even when the electronic equipment is in
good condition. In addition, once possessed, such law enforcement
offices could share this equipment with other law enforcement agencies
to help reduce their operating and capital costs as well.
In addition, since the Federal Government has a more extensive civil
forfeiture law, often state and local law enforcement agencies will
allow a federal law enforcement agency to take the lead in an arrest
and seizure of property to take advantage of the Federal civil
forfeiture law. Hence, the current wide dichotomy between New York
State and Federal civil forfeiture laws, forces state and local law
enforcement to find willing federal partners to conduct arrests and
seize property. However, Federal Law enforcement agencies are already
taxed to the limit and are concentrating more resources on the war on
terror, hence other crimes that tend to be more state based in their
enforcement such as drug trafficking, auto theft, auto insurance
fraud, and others is not a Federal priority as much as it is for local
law enforcement agencies.
This bill would allow state and local law enforcement agencies to
retain more seized equipment, after court approval, reduce the cost of
state and local governments by reducing auction, inventory, and
storage costs of seized property and the cost to purchase new office
equipment and other seized. properties.
This bill was revised to take into consideration the comments of the
NYS Association of Chiefs of police, the NYS District Attorneys
Association, and the NYS Sheriffs Association, to update this law.
All of these law enforcement associations now endorse and support this
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2012: S. 3829-A - Referred to Codes
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: This measure would
have a beneficial fiscal impact. This is because it would make such
sophisticated equipment free and available for use by law enforcement
officials, instead of forcing such law enforcement agency to auction
off this seized equipment at well below its market value. This bill
should save municipal and state law enforcement agencies funds that
otherwise would need to be expended to purchase such sophisticated
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: This bill measure would positively help
the finances of municipal and state law enforcement agencies.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 30 days after it shall have become law.
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