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USA, Alabama: Private Church Police ?

Thursday 13 April 2017, by siawi3

Source: http://abc3340.com/news/local/briarwood-presbyterian-church-seeks-lawmakers-approval-to-establish-police-force

Briarwood Presbyterian Church seeks lawmakers’ approval to establish police force

by Lauren Walsh

Thursday, February 16th 2017

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.”

Rowe says she would also consider requests from other churches to do the same.

England is concerned about transparency.

“Situations and arrests you would think normally need to be made, they can make their own determinations and decisions about whether that needs to happen,” said England.

Now that the proposal is out of committee, it moves to the full House for consideration.

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Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/02/18/an-alabama-churchs-desire-to-create-its-own-police-force-raises-a-lot-of-constitutional-concerns/

An Alabama Church’s Desire to Create Its Own Police Force Raises a Lot of Constitutional Concerns

February 18, 2017

by Hemant Mehta

Leaders of an Alabama church want permission from state legislators to operate their own police force.

So much for the power of prayer…

Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Vestavia Hills made the request, it became the subject of House Bill 180 sponsored by State Rep. Arnold Mooney, and it’s already passed in the House Public Safety Committee.

Why does a church need its own cops? They say it’s “a way to create a safer campus in a fallen world.”

But the whole idea raises a lot of constitutional concerns.

Does the state have authority over this police force, especially if something goes wrong? If they do, are they getting entangled in a church matter?

If the police act unlawfully, despite the required training, who has the power to discipline them?

Can any religious institution demand its own police force?

Do the police have to sign statements of faith, pledging their agreement with the church/s beliefs?

Can you challenge what these cops do? Can you take them to court?

°°°

Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/04/12/alabama-senate-passes-controversial-bill-allowing-church-to-create-its-own-police-force/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=BRSS&utm_campaign=Nonreligious&utm_content=361

Alabama Senate Passes Controversial Bill Allowing Church to Create Its Own Police Force

April 12, 2017

by Hemant Mehta

Earlier this year, we learned about an Alabama church that wanted permission from state legislators to operate their own police force. (So much for the power of prayer…)

Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Vestavia Hills made the request, which became the subject of House Bill 180 (sponsored by State Rep. Arnold Mooney) and Senate Bill 193 (sponsored by State Sen. J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner).

Yesterday, the Senate version of the bill passed by a 24-4 vote. The House, which was still debating its own version of the bill, will now consider this one.

The whole premise, though, raises so many questions.

Like why does a church need its own cops? They say it’s “a way to create a safer campus in a fallen world,” but there are a whole host of constitutional concerns.

Does the state have authority over this police force, especially if something goes wrong? If they do, are they getting entangled in a church matter?

If the police act unlawfully, despite the required training, who has the power to discipline them?

Can any religious institution demand its own police force?

Do the police have to sign statements of faith, pledging their agreement with the church/s beliefs?

Can citizens challenge what these cops do? Can they take them to court?

Why can’t the church, like every other organization, just ask for protection when needed?

As State Rep. Connie Rowe, a former police chief, said months ago, this church police force would have a lot of power.

“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.”

You think policing is problematic now? Just wait until the church police begin making headlines.

You know this would never be getting a green light from Alabama politicians if it were a mosque asking to create the same sort of police force. But remember: In this country, Christians are always allowed to bend the rules in their favor.

The new governor, Kay Ivey, could make her mark by promising to veto this bill if it ever gets to her… but this is Alabama and she’s hardly a courageous politician. Don’t count on her to do the right thing.

Why can’t the church, like every other organization, just ask for protection when needed?

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.”

Rowe says she would also consider requests from other churches to do the same.

You think policing is problematic now? Just wait until the church police begin making headlines.

On a brighter note, maybe some of these churches can position their cops inside the building to keep an eye on the priests. It’s one less thing we’d have to worry about.