Courtesy of John Fea:
The Alabama Senate has voted to allow a church to form its own police force.
Lawmakers on Tuesday voted 24-4 to allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to establish a law enforcement department.
The church says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe.
Critics of the bill argue that a police department that reports to church officials could be used to cover up crimes.
The state has given a few private universities the authority to have a police force, but never a church or non-school entity.
Police experts have said such a police department would be unprecedented in the U.S.
A similar bill is also scheduled to be debated in the House on Tuesday.
The big question: if women may not serve in combat, how about law enforcement?
Thanks to our southern correspondent:
Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Vestavia Hills is trying to establish its own police force.
The move requires approval from state lawmakers. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County) cleared its first major hurdle Wednesday. The House Public Safety Committee gave its OK.
Briarwood Presbyterian Church calls this a way to create a safer campus in a fallen world.
Some lawmakers argue allowing a private church to have its own police force could begin a slippery slope.
“What do we do when other church affiliates come and ask for the same thing?” questioned Rep. Mary Moore (D-Birmingham). “They’re not a college. They’re a church and they’re a church asking for police jurisdiction.”
Many questions were posed during Wednesday’s committee meeting.
“Who do the officers answer to?” asked Rep. Chris England (D- Tuscaloosa).
“They would answer to the leadership of the section of the church,” a representative from the church answered.
Rep. Connie Rowe (R- Jasper) is a former police chief. She supports allowing Briarwood to create its own force.
“They will conduct their own investigations,” explained Rowe. “They will conduct their own security. They will make their own arrests and instead of calling on the local law enforcement agency to take over the particular situation they’re trying to control, they will do that themselves. All they will utilize from their other law enforcement agencies is their lock up facilities.”
At a time when the PCA is repenting of racism and Black Live Matters is calling for reform of the police, has not the word “optics” entered the PCA thesaurus?