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Insurance Department Purchases Police Equipment (Nov 29, 2012)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Insurance Department has spent more than $180,000 on high-tech shotguns, bulletproof vests and seven police-package vehicles that agency officials say are needed as part of its expanded focus on criminal insurance fraud.

But the purchases have raised eyebrows among some lawmakers who question why the agency's nine-member anti-fraud unit that primarily investigates white-collar crimes would need equipment usually used for law enforcement.

Rep. Jason Murphey says he's concerned with the purchases and with the message it sends to residents when a state agency exercises police powers.

Insurance Commissioner John Doak defended the purchases and noted they were funded from fines and fees, and not state appropriations.

Doak also cited a case last year in Louisiana in which two insurance fraud investigators were shot and killed.

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