The Caddo County District Attorney's Office has suspended a program to make drug busts along Interstate 40 after coming under criticism for using a private company to assist in the effort. A judge has criticized the program as employees of the company who were not licensed law enforcement agents were making traffic stops, and the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General is investigating allegations of missing funds seized from one of the stops.District Attorney Jason Hicks hired a company called Desert Snow to train a drug task force to make drug stops along a 21-mile stretch of I-40 in Caddo County. During the year of the contract, the Guthrie-based agency was to be paid 25 percent of seized funds on training days and 10 percent of seized funds from all other stops. Since January, Desert Snow has been paid $40,000, and according to the contract, could be paid an additional $212,000 based on one arrest in which $850,000 was seized.On at least one occasion, Desert Snow owner Joe David pulled over a driver and questioned her, despite the fact that he is not a state-certified law enforcement officer. Caddo County Special Judge David A. Stephens called the incident "shocking," and told David if he ever did it again, he would go to jail.In many cases, funds were seized from traffic stops even though no drugs were found and no criminal charges filed. Attorneys say that by allowing a private company to profit from seizure, it looks as if the money seized is taken for profit, rather than for law enforcement's duty to protect and serve.Investigators for Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt are looking into claims that some of the money allegedly seized has gone missing. One man says that he was pulled over in Caddo County and officers seized $7,900 from him, even though no drugs were found and he was not arrested. However, the seizure paperwork indicates that the amount taken by authorities was $7,500. District Attorney Hicks said that if there is any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the task force, "I can guarantee you that I will be the first one that files a charge on it."The Caddo County D.A. insists that he has done nothing wrong, and that hiring a private company to train his task force is a legitimate way to improve drug traffic stops along I-40; however, criticism of the program has led to its early termination. In addition, Caddo County prosecutors are dropping all criminal cases arising from the roadside stops associated with the program.
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