Kansas cops love confiscating cash and property. A new law forces them to declare what they take.


Civil asset forfeiture allows police to take cash, vehicles and even houses from people without charging them. They get to keep the proceeds, and it’s difficult to challenge in court. Studies show that more property is taken this way than is stolen by burglars, and now Kansas has joined the states reining in what reformers decry as legalized theft.

Last week, the Kansas Legislature voted 120-0 in the House and 35-0 in the Senate to send Gov. Laura Kelly a bill transforming the asset seizure statute. It was hailed by Republicans and Democrats, and by conservative special-interest groups, as a triumph against a law that distorted the justice system. … Sam MacRoberts, general counsel of Kansas Justice Institute, said the 30-year-old statute facilitated government overreach by financially incentivizing law enforcement agencies to strip property from innocent people. “These reforms were long overdue and desperately needed,” MacRoberts said. “Asset forfeiture is abusive and fundamentally unjust. This is a great start.”

The Kansas Judicial Council says that from July 2019 to November 2023, Kansas law enforcement agencies seized $23.1 million in property. Of the total, $5.7 million was transferred to the federal government under revenue sharing agreements. One-fourth of the remaining $17.4 million was returned to the owners, but the Kansas Judicial Council reported that step took an average of 249 days to complete.

A part of the problem in Kansas, specifically, is that the cops lie about how much they take.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation-Kansas alleged in their report the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) grossly underrepresented the total amount of cash and property forfeited in its annual reports. In 2022, the KBI reported a total of $3,447,219 in forfeited property.

They’re crooks. Forget “transparency”—the fact that asset forfeiture can’t be gotten rid of entirely makes a cynical joke of law and law enforcement. “Drug kingpins,” they say.