Oklahoma Highway Patrol Officers Given Device to Immediately Seize Money from Accounts
Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers have a new toy in their vehicles that allows them to immediately seize funds from bank accounts they believe are connected to a crime.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol installed 16 ERADs, Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machines, into vehicles last month. If a trooper suspects illegal activities, the ERAD allows them to scan the suspect's bank card and immediately seize the potentially ill-gotten gains. However, the trooper can seize the funds without making an arrest or getting a warrant. The trooper doesn't even have to prove a crime has been committed, and its up to the suspect to prove their innocence. According to Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. John Vincent,
We’re gonna look for different factors in the way that you’re acting. We’re gonna look for if there’s a difference in your story. If there’s someway that we can prove that you’re falsifying information to us about your business.
If you can prove can prove that you have a legitimate reason to have that money, it will be given back to you. And we’ve done that in the past.
The company that created the program, ERAD Group Inc., was paid an initial fee of $5,000 and promised a cut of 7.7% of seized funds.
Critics of the use of ERADs question the due process of the systems, with suspects being forced to prove their innocence instead of the authorities proving guilt. State Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, said that officers have already abused the system. As a result. Loveless said he will introduce legislation that will require a conviction before any funds or assets are seized.