Speed Reads

policing for profit

If you're driving on this Oklahoma highway, don't carry cash

The preliminary findings of a report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma (ACLUOK) reveal that police in 12 Oklahoma counties along Interstate 40 have confiscated some $6 million through civil asset forfeiture in a five-year period from 2009 to 2014. Of that total, $4 million was seized in cases where the owner was never charged with any criminal activity.

Money seized by police under civil asset forfeiture is typically very difficult to recover, and it is often funneled directly to police budgets. "We understand the financial pressure law enforcement officials face to make due with shrinking budgets," said the ACLUOK's Ryan Kiesel. "But these numbers seem to indicate that huge sums of money are being taken but criminal charges are not being filed. That’s not how the system is supposed to work."

The ACLUOK figures do not include additional seizures of property, like cars and houses, or confiscations by federal (as opposed to state) officers. A Republican state senator, Kyle Loveless, has introduced a bill which would prohibit police from seizing money or assets from people without charging them with a crime. Oklahoma police have opposed the bill.