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Changes made to controversial civil asset forfeiture bill

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OKLAHOMA - Senator Kyle Loveless has made amendments to his controversial bill that would make changes to civil asset forfeiture laws.

A number of law enforcement agencies oppose the bill, even with the changes.

Canadian County K9s have sniffed out millions of dollars in drugs and cash on I-40.

Undersheriff Chris West said the money recovered in those busts is used for public safety programs and to fight crime.

"We use this money to buy computers and cars and dogs," West said.

Loveless believes the law agencies are operating under currently is flawed.

He said it gives officers opportunity to take property from innocent people and misuse funds.

"We've seen retirement parties paid for, plaques paid for, the state auditor's reports that have come out show a pretty good wealth of misspending," Loveless said.

Under his proposed bill, drug forfeitures would go into a new state fund after a conviction.

That money would go to drug treatment facilities, drug courts and law enforcement agencies.

A citizen oversight board would decide how to disperse the money.

"It doesn't matter how he packages it. It's civil asset forfeiture redistribution," West said. "What about our citizens? What about our rehabilitation programs in our county?"

Also under the bill, agencies would have 30 days to charge someone after a seizure and be required to submit a report that's open to the public.

Many law enforcement agencies fear this bill would hurt police work.

"All this legislation is going to do is jeopardize the safety of the citizens, because it's going to favor and benefit the criminals," West said.

"I believe that law enforcement has as tough job, and we need to give them the tools necessary to do their job," Loveless said. "However, it shouldn't be trampling on innocent people's constitutional rights."

You can read the full bill here.