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Ban on drug stops by private companies passes House

Oklahoma House members voted 90-0 Thursday to ban private company involvement in drug traffic stops.
by Nolan Clay Published: March 13, 2014

The state House of Representatives on Thursday agreed private companies should be banned from participating in traffic stops.

The Oklahoman exposed the questionable practice last year, after the Caddo County district attorney hired a Guthrie-based company to do on-site training for his drug task force.

More than $1 million was seized in drug stops last year before the district attorney halted all such stops because of criticism.

State representatives Thursday voted 90-0 to approve the bill barring a law enforcement agency from allowing a private company “to conduct or actively participate” in a roadside traffic stop or traffic arrest.

“It’s probably illegal already for them to do that,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. “They can’t do that but they did. So, if we do nothing but clarify the law saying that it’s prohibited, we’ve done a good thing.

“If there are bad people caught, that’s why we train our officers to handle those situations,” Shelton also said. “You can’t pretend to be a police officer.”

The bill now goes to the Senate.

The Caddo County district attorney, Jason Hicks, came under fire last summer for hiring Desert Snow LLC to train his drug task force for one year.

Hicks hired the company in January 2013. He agreed to pay the company 25 percent of all forfeited funds from stops involving its trainers.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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