BY World's Editorials Writers
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
12/11/12 at 2:52 AM
If the Oklahoma Insurance Department's Anti-Fraud Unit ever runs into any drug cartel operatives, space invaders, Mafia toughs or al-Qaida terrorists, it'll be ready. The unit so far doesn't have any surface- to-air missiles or armed drones. But with its arms build-up, who knows?
Why, exactly, is Insurance Commissioner John Doak spending $180,000 on high-tech equipment for a unit that largely investigates white-collar fraud? Are there bean-counters out there so nasty that insurance investigators need a SWAT-style vehicle mounted with shotguns as well as uniforms and badges? State Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole, says the unit does not need all that equipment, and that the whole idea is "insanity."
"They're in the stinking insurance oversight business," Coates said.
So what if the $180,000 in high-tech equipment will come out of fraud funds and not taxpayer dollars?
Doak defends the expenditures, saying the unit needs seven police-package vehicles and other equipment as part of its expanded focus on criminal insurance fraud, according to a Sunday story by Tulsa World senior writer Wayne Green.
Doak's duties are usually pretty tame - regulate insurance companies and protect consumers - and anything involving higher order police work should be left to sheriff's deputies and police officers, Coates told Greene.
Coates has no issue with giving bullet-proof vests and handguns to insurance investigators, but the level of weapons and vehicles Doak is buying is over the top.
Next thing you know the Department of Human Services will be asking to provide special equipment to its social workers who venture into some dicey situations.
Our suggestion is that if the fraud unit - Doak's detectives - expects trouble, it do what most state agencies do: Contact state or local law enforcement.