Alabama senate votes to allow church to form own police force
A church in Alabama is making new trending news as The Alabama Senate has voted to allow it to form its own police force. Lawmakers last week voted 24-4 to allow the Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to establish a law enforcement department. The Birmingham church has requested that the state government allow it to set up its own police department, modeled on the existing police departments at Alabama colleges and universities.The Birmingham church says it needs its own police officers to help keep its school along with its more than 4,000 person congregation safe. Critics of the new bill argue that a police department that reports to church officials could be used to cover up crimes. The state has given a few of its private universities the authority to have a police force, but never a church or a non-school entity. Police experts are saying that such a police department would be unprecedented in the United States. A similar bill is also scheduled to be debated in the House this week.
The Alabama Presbyterian Church may soon become the first church in the nation to form its own police force, invested by the state with the rights of “regular” police. And officials at the Birmingham church, which belongs to the smaller and more conservative of the nation’s two major branches of the church, say that their church, with its 4,100 congregants and 2,000-student school, needs the protection of its own church-run police force. They say that hiring local police, as many other congregations do, isn’t the best option for them. They say this is because they often need more officers than the local departments can provide. The church also cites as a cautionary tale the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, in which a lone gunman fatally shot 20 first-graders and six staff members in a Connecticut public school. After the shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook and in the wake of similar assaults at churches and schools across the country, Briarwood Church recognized the need to provide their church with qualified first responders to help coordinate with local law enforcement who, so heroically and effectively help to serve their communities.
The state Senate voted 24-4 on April 11 to give the Briarwood Church, located ten miles south of downtown Birmingham, permission to hire its own police. The new measure now goes to the House, and if it passes there as expected, it will then go to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature. Ivey. The new bill’s critics, including the state’s branch of the ACLU, fault both the church and the Senate for blurring the line that separates the church and state and calls the new bill an affront to the Constitution’s establishment clause that would not hold up if challenged. The new proposal to authorize Briarwood Presbyterian Church to form its own police force places a core governmental function, with all the powers of the state, into the hands or a religious institution to exercise its discretion with no governmental oversight. The new bill also singles out one particular church out of the thousands of churches, mosques and synagogues, and other religious entities in Alabama that may have similar concerns, and therefore favors one specific religious group.
If this new bill is passed, it will be interesting to see whether or not this begins more churches and religious establishments being offered their own police forces. This is just one of the new trending news stories you will find on The Guardian site. On the site, you will also find new sports trending news, new trends, new tech, travel, new world news and more. **
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