Unlicensed Bounty Hunters Operate Illegally in Oklahoma

Most states require that bounty hunters be licensed given the demanding and potentially violent nature of their work. Oklahoma recently instituted a law that bounty hunters must be certified through the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET). Such professionals who operate without a license could receive felony charges for their activities under this new law.

Despite Oklahoma’s requirement for CLEET licensing, a Fox23 investigation found that this law is being consistently ignored. The journalists spoke with Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office Major Shannon Clark who claimed that bounty hunters are still bringing fugitives in.

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As of March 18, 2015, none of Oklahoma’s licensed bounty hunters had an address in Tulsa. This Sheriff’s office plans on making arrests if unlicensed bounty hunters continue bringing fugitives to them.

Famed bounty hunter Duane (Dog) Chapman is so strongly in favor of this new law that he invited its sponsor to join him on an operation in Oklahoma. Senator Ralph Shortey wrote this legislation because of several abuses by bounty hunters in Oklahoma.

In one case, bounty hunters in Midwest City went to the wrong address and held a family hostage for several hours. Also, in a separate case in this city, two bounty hunters used a stun gun on a man and killed his dog as they searched for a fugitive. The two men were charged for these crimes. Professional and properly certified bounty hunters wish to distance themselves from these kinds of events, which only serve to give the profession a black eye.

Chapman was quoted in the Tulsa World as saying that Oklahoma’s new regulations protect the public. While the law requires training, psychological testing, and a background check, it gives a lot of leeway to properly licensed bounty hunters. For instance, if necessary, these professionals are permitted to pursue felons into private homes. Licensed bounty hunters in Oklahoma are also permitted to carry guns if they undergo additional training.

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