Last month, I reported on Briarwood Presbyterian Church wanting to form its own police department and a senate bill that would allow them to do so. Well, that bill has now been approved.
On Tuesday, senators voted 24-4 to pass the bill that would grant Briarwood permission to establish their own police force.
“We’ve got over 30,000 events a year that take place at Briarwood – going on all day, all night, at the school, at the church, at the seminary,” Attorney Eric Johnston who drafted the bill told AL.com in February. “We have to hire policemen all the time. It would be so much easier to have someone on staff.”
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.
Church administrator Matt Moore told NBC News, “After the shooting at Sandy Hook and in the wake of similar assaults at churches and schools, Briarwood recognized the need to provide qualified first responders to coordinate with local law enforcement.”
Due to the remote area of the church, that is why they are making the request. Frankly, simply allowing everyone attending to keep and bear their arms should be enough to protect themselves, as well as those that attend with them.
The move prompted the ACLU to get involved.
“Vesting state police powers in a church police force violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” wrote ACLU Acting Executive Director Randall Marshall to state representatives. “These bills unnecessarily carve out special programs for religious organizations and inextricably intertwine state authority and power with church operations.”
That’s hardly the case. In fact, in a Presbyterian church, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, there is a hierarchy of more churches that would oversee the particular church that had the police department, making it more difficult for there to be a cover up of a crime.
The Senate, in my opinion, rightly approved the bill against the protests of local police who claimed that there were two deputy sheriffs who patrol the area.
“When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”
This is actually good news. Alabama has already been rocked this week by the resignation of Governor Robert Bentley following a sex scandal that just won’t go away.