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12-Apr-2017 - Earlier this week the Alabama Senate voted 24-4 to allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to hire fully deputized officers who would carry weapons and have the authority to make arrests.
A similar bill is scheduled to be debated in the House on Tuesday and, if the bill becomes law, at least one expert believes Briarwood Presbyterian would become the only church in the nation to have its own police force.
The ACLU claims it’s unconstitutional and believes the bill would not survive a legal challenge if signed into law.
“These bills unnecessarily carve out special programs for religious organizations that inextricably intertwine state authority and power with church operations. We urge the legislation not to pass these unconstitutional bills,” ACLU Attorney Randall Marshall said.
But church officials say armed officers are needed to keep their K-12 school campus, their seminary, and their 4,000+ member congregation safe on their giant complex.
“After the shooting at Sandy Hook (Elementary School) 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 who so heroically and effectively serve their communities,” the church said in a statement provided to CNN.
Alabama legislators have given a few private universities the authority to have a police force, but never a church or non-school entity.
The church said its “police officers would be restricted to the church’s campuses and be able to respond to emergency situations while coordinating with local authorities.”
As mentioned above, next week the Alabama House will bring up their bill so I'll post an update if it passes and goes to the Governor. In the meantime... share your thoughts below.