The Norman Transcript

Headlines

July 30, 2013

ACLU seeks investigation of drug task force

OKLAHOMA CITY — The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma on Monday called for an investigation of a drug task force in Caddo County that uses a private contracting company to help run drug stops of motorists on Interstate 40.

The ACLU asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to launch an investigation and also called for charges to be filed against contractors from Desert Snow LLC, who the organization said appear to be impersonating police officers in violation of state law.

In a letter to Caddo County District Attorney Jason Hicks, ACLU Legal Director Brady Henderson said company employees have never been certified as Oklahoma police officers by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.

“Despite this, they are operating law enforcement vehicles, pulling over motorists, questioning drivers and passengers and searching and detaining people and property while armed with weapons capable of deadly force and wearing shirts with a badge or seal emblazoned on the breast,” Henderson’s letter states.

It says Desert Snow contractors are private citizens pretending to be police officers and engaging the public without the 600 hours of instruction that is mandated to be a peace officer in Oklahoma “and without a shred of public accountability.” Impersonating a peace officer is a misdemeanor offense in Oklahoma.

Henderson’s letter states that Hicks’ office entered into an agreement with the for-profit Desert Snow to aid in drug interdiction operations in exchange for up to 25 percent of the task force’s profits. Hicks claims to have credentialed and commissioned Desert Snow employees as task force members to give them authority alongside the highway.

But Hicks lacks the authority to grant peace officer status, according to Henderson.

Henderson also said the ACLU is investigating reports of questionable seizures of private citizens’ property by members of the task force. Forfeiture of private property is permitted when it was used to commit a crime, but several forfeitures have happened in Caddo County when no criminal charges were filed, the letter states.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Baker home 3 Moore resident lands in new home 14 months after tornado

    She crawled from the rubble of what used to be her home. The neighborhood was destroyed. It was the afternoon of May 20, 2013, and Jamie Baker was homeless....

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Additional details come to light in Campus Corner incident involving Sooner recruit

    The 911 call from Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe early Friday morning brought forth more details from the incident that has Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon under investigation for an alleged assault....

    July 30, 2014

  • Police rule out homicide in Norman woman’s death

    Norman Police Capt. Todd Gibson said Tuesday they have eliminated the theory of homicide after a Norman woman was found dead in her home Monday afternoon. “We’re moving in a different direction with the investigation,” Gibson said. “It’s ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Voter registration deadline is Friday

    Friday is the last day to apply for voter registration to be eligible to vote in the Aug. 26 Runoff Primary Election. Races include federal, state and county offices, but for Cleveland County voters, the field is limited....

    July 30, 2014

  • Norman High student argues his way to the top

    Knowing the ins and outs of an argument that involves complex research is the type of skill one expects a high paid attorney to have not a high school student. Yet debate competitor Nicky Halterman has been arguing his way to the top of ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Mixon question off-limits at coaches luncheon

    Toby Rowland addressed the elephant in the room even before Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel arrived Wednesday at Journey Church....

    July 31, 2014

  • Mixon will not participate in practice

    Preseason practice begins for Oklahoma today. Freshman running back Joe Mixon will not be there. The school announced the decision Wednesday night....

    July 31, 2014

  • Sales tax-free weekend set to begin this weekend

    When stores open Friday morning, shoppers may be waiting. Oklahoma’s annual sales tax holiday is slated to run this weekend with the special exemption beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and ending at midnight on Sunday....

    July 31, 2014

  • Music community bands together to raise money for 2-year-old’s battle with rare form of cancer

    Two-year old Nova Pettigrew was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer six weeks ago. Her father, former Deli sound technician and musician James Pettigrew, noticed something was wrong when running turned to walking, then limping, then ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Deputies cleared, return to work

    Two deputies involved in a deadly shooting earlier this month are expected to return to work today after being cleared by the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office. “They (the Sheriff’s Office) gave me their investigation, I ...

    July 31, 2014