An Alabama Church’s Desire to Create Its Own Police Force Raises a Lot of Constitutional Concerns February 18, 2017

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

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?

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.

(Screenshot via ABC 33/40. Thanks to Kathy for the link)

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