Canadian Co. Undersheriff Fears Proposed Bill Could Cripple Drug - - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |


Canadian Co. Undersheriff Fears Proposed Bill Could Cripple Drug Enforcement Programs

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A newly filed Senate bill is turning into the hot topic of conversation for Oklahoma law enforcement. The bill would implement a new system to oversee the way seized property is handled.

Sen. Kyle Loveless, who authored Senate Bill 838, says his intentions are not to take money away from departments, rather change the way the assets are collected.

To continue their battle on the war against drugs, state law enforcement agencies use money and other assets they seize from busts to fund their fight.

“We are dependent on the funds and assets forfeitures that may come from these arrests,” said Canadian County Undersheriff, Chris West.

But now Loveless plans to change the collection procedure with Senate Bill 838.

By Oklahoma law you can be pulled over by an officer or deputy and have your property taken if they believe it may be tied to criminal activity.

“The problem that I have with that is that justice should not be dealt on the side of the road. It's meant to be done in a courtroom,” said Loveless.

Loveless says Senate Bill 838 isn't trying to get rid of the process, rather put safe guards in place. He's proposed the seized assets be put into a state managed account then divvied back out to law enforcement after a conviction.

“First off, if the money is taken illegally you shouldn't have it. And second off, if we need to address a lack of funding in your agency, we do that through the normal budgetary process, not by that agency taking money from the side of the road when they pull someone over,” the senator said.

But many Oklahoma sheriffs' departments worry a bill like this would cripple most drug enforcement programs funded by these seizures.

“I don't believe that Senator Loveless had ill intentions. I think he'd just ill-informed. Or uninformed,” said West.

Loveless plans to host a study with law enforcement and district attorneys to get their input on ways to tweak the bill.

Loveless says currently law enforcement agencies are not required to report how much money they've seized then spend on their drug interdiction programs.

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