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Politics

Tenn. lawmakers urged to keep asset forfeiture law intact

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Law enforcement officials are trying to dissuade Tennessee lawmakers from joining other states in dialing back police powers to seize cash and vehicles without first gaining criminal convictions.

Shelby County prosecutor Steve Jones, who also represents the West Tennessee Violent Crime and Drug Task Force, warned members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday that changing the law could result in more crime. In his words: "The criminals will thank you."

Republican Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville bristled at the suggestion that lawmakers might be working on behalf of criminals by seeking to avoid the seizure of property from innocent people.

Conservative billionaire Charles Koch and the American Civil Liberties Union are touting a New Mexico law enacted this year as a national model for reining in forfeiture powers.