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
  • Junior Police Graduation First Junior Police Academy graduates

    The room went dark and a slideshow flipped through photos of children participating in the first Junior Police Academy as kids chattered excitedly, remembering what they had done over the past two weeks. Norman Police Department hosted ...

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials say transparency lacking in Wal-Mart zoning

    Norman city staff recently admitted to withholding information from the public regarding a controversial zoning change in southeast Norman. If approved by the city council, the proposal will allow a Wal-Mart supercenter at Cedar Lane and ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet crashes with 116 on board

    OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso — An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Nonprofit raises $3.9M-plus for new center

    The Center for Children and Families, a United Way of Norman partner agency, announced Thursday that it exceeded its public fundraising goal of $3.5 million and raised more than $3.9 million to complete the purchase and renovation of a ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

    WASHINGTON — Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel’s largest airport after rocket attacks. Two airliners crash during storms. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Police log

    Police responded to the following incidents Wednesday: · 5:58 a.m. indecent exposure, 100 block of West Comanche Street · 6:08 a.m. burglary in progress, 100 block of West Hayes Street · 8:09 a.m. larceny report, 100 ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Felonies filed

    The following people were charged with felony counts in the Cleveland County Court Clerk’s Office: · Angela Beth Mendinghall, 36, unauthorized use of a vehicle; driving with a canceled, suspended or revoked license · Daniel ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Immigrant children being placed with sponsors

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The federal government says more than 200 unaccompanied children in Oklahoma have been placed with sponsors so far this year. The federal government released a state-by-state breakdown Thursday of the numbers of ...

    July 25, 2014

  • OCU prepares to move law library downtown

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City University’s School of Law is moving its library into a historic building in downtown Oklahoma City....

    July 25, 2014

  • Grad to serve as delegate at camp

    William Long, 2014 Norman North High School graduate, recently represented Oklahoma as a delegate at the 2014 National Youth Science Camp. Long joined 100 other top high school graduates representing the United States and eight other ...

    July 25, 2014