Commissioners to consider asset forfeiture agreement with Precinct 4 constable

Published on Sunday, 19 March 2017 18:40 - Written by FAITH HARPER, fharper@tylerpaper.com

Smith County Commissioners will consider an asset forfeiture sharing agreement between the county and the Precinct 4 constable’s office on Tuesday.

The agreement already has been signed by Constable Josh Joplin and District Attorney Matt Bingham, but it will not become active without County Judge Nathaniel Moran’s signature.

The Commissioners Court will discuss the agreement at its weekly meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Smith County Courthouse Annex building, 200 E. Ferguson St. The meeting is open to the public.

Under the agreement, funds may only be seized after a court determines the seized items were proceeds from a felony case or were intended to be used in the crime.

It outlines the constable’s office would receive 63 percent of the funds, 27 percent to the DA’s office and 10 percent to the county. 

All property, including seized vehicles, would be left to the constable’s office to use until the office decided to sell them. Then the funds would be divided.

Precinct 4 also would be responsible for paying off any liens against seized property if it intended to use it. It would be reimbursed for those costs at the time of sale. That would be paid back before dividing up the profit, according to the proposed agreement.

The Constable office would only be able to use seized property under applicable state laws, the agreement reads. The office also is required to keep records on all seized items and related court documents for three years.

The agreement would automatically renew annually, unless one of the three parties wanted to renegotiate the contract, according to information in the commissioners’ agenda packet.

In other business:

• Commissioners will consider allowing the sale of fireworks for San Jacinto Day, April 21.

• Commissioners will consider a cooperative purchasing agreement between the city of Tyler and the county to buy office supplies and copy paper.

• A contract with a vendor to update the county’s hazard mitigation plan will be discussed.

• The court will discuss advertising for bids for comprehensive liability insurance for the county.

• Amendments to the Smith County Employee Handbook regarding wage and safe hour provision will be considered.

• The 2016 racial profiling reports from county constable offices also will be submitted to the court.

The Tyler Morning Telegraph will attend the meeting. For updates as they happen follow @TMTFaith on Twitter.