The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma on Monday called for a criminal investigation into a district attorney's use of a private company to help in his drug interdiction effort on Interstate 40.
In a letter, the ACLU called on Caddo County District Attorney Jason Hicks to ask the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to initiate an inquiry of his own office.
The ACLU alleged the founder of the private company, Desert Snow LLC, and at least two of its employees “have falsely impersonated peace officers, a misdemeanor offense.”
Hicks hired the Guthrie-based company in January to mentor his drug task force for one year. He agreed to pay the company 25 percent of all forfeited funds from stops involving its trainers.
Over $1 million seized
After hiring the company, the task force seized more than $1 million in cash during traffic stops. Hicks halted further stops by his task force after a judge criticized him July 2.
Caddo County Special Judge David Stephens became upset after Desert Snow founder Joe David testified he pulled over a pregnant driver and questioned her even though he is not a state-certified law enforcement officer.
“For people to pull over people on I-40 without that license is shocking to me,” the judge said of the certification by the state Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.
Hicks said Monday he would not comment on the ACLU letter to him.
“I'm reviewing everything and will make the appropriate determinations after review of the entire matter,” he said.
Desert Snow's chief executive officer, Jeff David, said Monday its training program and its financial agreement with Hicks have been reviewed by the state auditor and Oklahoma district attorneys and found to be legal.
The past president of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association, Greg Mashburn, disputed the Desert Snow statement, saying, “I'm not aware of any review by Oklahoma's district attorneys, regarding that company.”
The ACLU complained the Desert Snow men involved in the stops “are not officers at all, but rather private citizens pretending to be peace officers, and engaging in potentially deadly encounters without the benefit of the 600 hours of instruction mandated for an Oklahoma professional peace officer, and without a shred of public accountability.”
The ACLU told Hicks, “Your whims do not trump the duly-enacted laws of the State of Oklahoma, and neither you nor the counterfeit cops are above the law.”
The ACLU suggested Attorney General Scott Pruitt appoint a prosecutor to make a decision on charges.
The attorney general's office already is investigating a complaint that $400 went missing from money seized during an I-40 stop in January.