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Top cop

Gazette staff December 19th, 2012

How many make-believe cops can you name off the bat? Let’s see … there’s Sgt. Joe Friday, Dirty Harry, Axel Foley … oh, and John Doak. If the name of Oklahoma’s insurance commissioner doesn’t immediately strike fear among the criminal kind, it’s certainly not for lack of trying. Doak’s agency has bolstered its anti-fraud unit by spending more than $180,000 on police cars, pump-action shotguns, bulletproof vests and the like.

Credit: Brad Gregg

That buildup, first reported by the eCapitol online service, has some legislators questioning whether Doak has been watching too many gangster flicks.

“Is Al Capone back in town?” state Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, told the Tulsa World. “Are we looking for stills in the woods? Come on, it’s a joke.” A state senator, Seminole Republican Harry Coates, called it “government overreach.”

Doak defended the expenditures, pointing to a Louisiana case last year in which a pair of insurance department agents were shot and killed on the job.

“They investigate serious crimes including embezzlement, exploitation of the elderly and fraud. We’ve had cases where victims lost their life savings,” Doak said in a statement. “Protecting Oklahomans is my top priority. I will do whatever I can to keep them and my investigators safe.”

Fair enough, and perhaps there is a call for some Samuel L. Jackson-style badassery in the realm of fraudulent insurance claims. We just think it’s well past time for the Oklahoma Peanut Commission to get a helicopter mounted with an infrared camera.

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