Oklahoma Highway Patrol just started using ERAD’s a few weeks ago and they're already generating a firestorm of controversy.
The ERAD’s, or Electronic Recovery and Access Devices, can read pre-paid cards and seize money from the cards without a warrant or without filing criminal charges. The State Highway Patrol bought 16 of them and they cannot access money from debit cards or credit cards. They can access cash from prepaid cards.
Thursday, June 9, Peak Power Manufacturing of Lake Park Florida sent the state a letter saying it’s "Instituted a ban on employee travel" to Oklahoma because their employees use cards for business travel, and "We simply cannot risk seizure of our employee's and our company's assets based upon the whims of an honorable, dedicated, and well intentioned Oklahoma State Patrol Officer."
The highway patrol told News 9 they're not looking for the business traveler with one or two cards.
"The thing is we're not stopping somebody and grabbing a 25-dollar Walgreens card and running it,” said Lt. John Vincent Oklahoma Highway Patrol. “There's a reason for us to check what's on the card."
Troopers say often drug couriers will use the prepaid cards instead of carrying cash.
"That’s when we're going to be able to use the ERAD system to check those cards to see what is on them. And if you can prove that you have a reason to have those cards there won't be any charges,” said Vincent.
Senator Kyle Loveless, (R) Oklahoma City, is an opponent of the card readers and of Civil Asset Forfeiture in general.
"So we're going to be able to tell their balance, tell their records, tell those other things without a warrant, without charges and without an arrest and without a conviction. That's un-American,” said Loveless.
Senator Kyle Loveless says the devices should be shelved until they have been properly vetted.
"I think that's a common sense approach to make sure that their policies and procedures that are in place are constitutional, are legal and don't violate innocent people's rights,” said Loveless.
According to a state contract News 9 obtained, the state is paying the makers of the ERAD's $5000 for the equipment, then 7.7% of all money forfeited.