New Poll: Oklahomans Want Change to Forfeiture Law - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

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New Poll: Oklahomans Want Change to Forfeiture Law

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It's started heated debates inside the capitol, and new polling numbers out Thursday show Oklahomans have picked a definitive side on the issue of civil asset forfeiture. It's started heated debates inside the capitol, and new polling numbers out Thursday show Oklahomans have picked a definitive side on the issue of civil asset forfeiture.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

It's started heated debates inside the capitol, and new polling numbers out Thursday show Oklahomans have picked a definitive side on the issue of civil asset forfeiture.

According to Soonerpoll Quarterly, which News 9 has used in the past as a pollster, 78 percent of likely voters in Oklahoma say the current forfeiture law violates their constitutional rights. It’s across the political spectrum too. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they were very liberal and 72 percent said they were very conservative, but both sides are in agreement the law should be changed.

“You have to petition the government to get your stuff back. I don't believe that's American, I don't believe it's constitutional and I don't believe that’s the state of Oklahoma we want to live in,” Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City) said.

Loveless is sponsoring Senate Bill 838 which would impose stricter burden of proof regulations on law enforcement.

Under the current law, officers don't have to charge the owner of the property they seize. Seizures can routinely top $1,000 in cash and often include other property like cars and electronics.

“When we don't have checks and balances, when don't have proper transparency, when we have a system that turns cops into collection agencies,” Brady Henderson, Legal Director of the Oklahoma ACLU said.

But not everyone is convinced by the data. Law enforcement officials say it could hinder them from stopping the funding of serious drug offenders and could force cut backs in budgets. Agencies routinely use projections of seizure revenue to create budgets for investigations and salaries.

“It's going to help the criminals,” Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said, “The asset forfeitures and the funding of the criminals taken away from them, impacts them to be able to continue their organization and operation.”

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said law enforcement has been pushing to educate the public on how departments use assets that have been seized. Prater said the public was being misinformed by Loveless and called into question the efficacy of the new poll.

“If the public truly knew what was going on with asset forfeiture in this state they would look at [Loveless] and say 'what are you doing'” he said.

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