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ACLU Study Reveals Money Seized Along I-40 Corridor

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A new study reports alarming findings about Oklahoma's law enforcement agencies and the property they've seized. A new study reports alarming findings about Oklahoma's law enforcement agencies and the property they've seized.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

A new study reports alarming findings about Oklahoma's law enforcement agencies and the property they've seized.

Over the past five years, Oklahoma law enforcement officers have wrongfully kept millions of dollars they seized, the American Civil Liberties Union claims.

This is an issue an Oklahoma lawmaker hopes to put an end to with his proposed bill.

The bill has been a hot topic of conversation for Oklahoma law enforcement all summer, and the ACLU's finding are once again fueling the debate.

The study focused on cash seizures made by law enforcement agencies along the Interstate 40 corridor between 2009 to 2014.

What it found was nearly 65 percent of the cash taken was done so without any criminal charges ever filed.

Canadian County is one of the 12 counties listed in the study.

I think that their article is very misleading because they are trying to put out this misnomer that every asset forfeiture must have a criminal case. And that's not the case at all,” Canadian County Undersheriff Chris West said.

The ACLU reports Canadian County law enforcement took more than $2.7 million from a combined 44 cases but only 23 charges were filed.

Oklahoma law states 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.

“In 2014, every asset forfeiture also had a criminal case that was filed with it. And so when you want to sit down and write a slanted article and no one knows the methodology used or where you got all your information it's easy to mislead the citizens,” West said.

“To me it comes back to should an innocent person have to petition their government when they take it? And I don't believe that so. I believe that the government should have to prove that its guilty before they take it,” said state Sen. Kyle Loveless, Senate Bill 838 author.

Loveless wants to change the way the assets are collected.

He believes justice should not be dealt with on the side of the road.

“We are trying to help law enforcement come up with a framework that they can operate with and still go after drug cartels,” Loveless said.

Tuesday morning, Loveless will meet with law enforcement from around the state along with experts to find a solution that works for both sides.

Click here to read more on the ACLU findings here.

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