Newly filed Oklahoma bill would curb use of unmarked police vehicles

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Have you ever been pulled over and you didn’t even see the cop coming? It might be because the officer was in an unmarked police car. However, a State Senator from Tulsa wants to stop police from using those vehicles to make traffic stops.

A bill filed at the Oklahoma State Capitol for next session is calling for municipal police departments to use clearly marked vehicles. But not everyone thinks that’s a good idea.

“Why would you have to have an unmarked car to pull someone over for a traffic ticket? That ain’t a thing,” said Quincy Mouton of Oklahoma City

“We’ve been used to it all this time, so making it illegal, I think is crazy,” said OKC motorist Marisa Scott.

Opinions are mixed when it comes to unmarked police cars making traffic stops and writing tickets.

Right now, many city police forces around the state use unmarked and “ghost” or “shadow” marked cars when making stops and writing tickets, but this SB1109 would change that.

“I think if you see an officer in a fully marked car, you are going to slow down,” said Senator Cody Rogers.

The Republican from Tulsa says all 12 of the Tulsa Police Department’s traffic citation cars are unmarked. We confirmed with Oklahoma City Police Department that they also have multiple unmarked car as well.

Rogers says it’s a way for cities to make more money.

“It’s not an attack about individual officers, it’s about revenue coming into the city in unmarked police cars,” said Rogers.

“Now I agree with him, it shouldn’t be to raise money to run cities. Traffic safety and traffic enforcement is there to save lives,” said John Whetsel.

The retired Oklahoma County Sheriff says there are laws on the books that cap how much money cities can bring in from tickets. He says more than 700 people are expected to die on Oklahoma roads in 2021.

The now head of the National Sheriff’s Association Traffic and Safety Committee says unmarked and “ghost or shadow” marked cars offer an ever present deterrent.

“If you only think that you have to drive safe when you see a marked car present then you are only going to drive safe when you see a marked car present. But if you think that maybe there might be a unmarked car that you can’t see you are going to be safer all the time,” said Whetsel.

“I think more marked police cars on the roadways will deter the aggravated speeding. I don’t think an unmarked police car deters aggravated speeding, in my opinion,” said Rogers.

Rogers says OHP Troopers can’t write tickets from unmarked cars so why should city officers be able to. He says police forces could still use the unmarked cars temporarily if need be, but not permanently.

Whetsel brings up the point, who will pay to retro fit the cars with the proper signage? SB1109 can first be heard in committee next February.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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