Alabama church gets OK to start own police force
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Thread: Alabama church gets OK to start own police force

  1. #1
    XCR Guru TexasChris's Avatar
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    Alabama church gets OK to start own police force

    Church Can Start Its Own Police Force, Alabama Senate Says : The Two-Way : NPR

    A large church in Alabama is one step closer to creating its own police force, a move that seems to be without precedent in the U.S. The state's Senate has approved legislation that would give church police officers the same powers other law enforcement officers have in Alabama.
    After being approved by Alabama's Senate on a 24-4 vote, the bill now heads to the state House of Representatives, where an identical bill was sent to the Public Safety and Homeland Security committee in February.
    Both chambers' legislation specifically names Briarwood Presbyterian Church, a Birmingham megachurch that "says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe," Alabama Public Radio reports.



    For the third consecutive year, the Alabama Legislature is considering a bill that would let the Briarwood Presbyterian Church congregation, one of the largest in the state, create its own law enforcement department with sworn police officers.


    Anthony Izaguirre/AP

    Police officers hired by Briarwood Presbyterian would need to be certified by a state standards and training commission, according to the bill, SB193. The officers' authority would be restricted to the church's campuses and properties.
    The officers would be given "all of the duties and invested with all of the powers of law enforcement officers in this state," the bill says.
    A spokesman for the church tells reporter Andrew Yeager of member station WBHM in Birmingham that the church was moved to create its own police force after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings.
    In Yeager's report for today's All Things Considered, he says that the bill's main sponsor, state Sen. Jabo Waggoner, is helping the church deal with security needs that aren't met by the private security it's already using.
    "It was their decision," Waggoner tells Yeager, "and if they wanted to have their own police force, you know, I don't see any reason why they can't. It's not unusual."
    This isn't the first time Briarwood's effort to form a police force has been endorsed by both houses of Alabama's Legislature. As The Associated Press reports, a similar bill that was approved last year eventually failed after then-Gov. Robert Bentley didn't sign it into law.
    While churches have been known to form their own watch programs to enhance security and safety in North Carolina and elsewhere, it's rare for an American church to form its own police force (see update below).
    Earlier this month, Alabama's House adopted the Alabama Church Protection Act, which would help religious groups form armed security patrols.
    It authorizes "any church or place of worship to establish a security program by which designated members are authorized to carry firearms for the protection of the congregation of the church or place of worship."
    The act also provides "limited immunity for members of such a program when they're acting within their duties.
    Update On Churches And Police (April 13):
    After NPR initially published this story, readers pointed out other instances of American churches that have their own police forces. For instance, the Washington National Cathedral Police (see page 27 in this PDF) operates on the church's properties in the nation's capital.
    And in Utah, the L.D.S. Church had "tremendous influence" in the Salt Lake City Police Department for decades after it was founded in 1851. Prior to that date, the department says, "policing was handled by the LDS Church."
    Along Utah's border with Arizona, the shared police department of twin communities that were settled by members of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been targeted for dismantlement by the Justice Department, which says the agency "operates as an arm of the F.L.D.S. Church."
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    XCR Guru TomAiello's Avatar
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    I'm not really convinced that putting police power in the hands of a church is any worse than putting it in the hands of the government. Insofar as the church is a private organization, I'd say it's likely to result in better outcomes.
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    XCR Guru TexasChris's Avatar
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    I think it sets an interesting precedent.
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    XCR Guru Sean K.'s Avatar
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    What it really exposes is that personal safety and security should be each person's responsibility. You can't leave it up to the government, or IMO, the church. It's something you either take seriously yourself, or you're waiting to be a victim; hoping that if you're statistically unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of the violence that someone else will save you. Naive at best.
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    XCR Guru Merlin's Avatar
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    One of the downsides would be if that 'church' becomes a cult and does it cover All religions, although they did say 'place of worship'. Too many holes IMHO just like everything else passed as 'law'.

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    XCR Guru Bravo's Avatar
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    And here I thought the Monty Python sketch was entertainment.
    Turns out it was prophetic!

    As far as I'm concerned, Sean has it right - we protect ourselves. Anyone who doesn't is merely playing the odds.

    Middle Brother noted that there's no moral wrong in choosing to go without defensive hardware if that's the choice. But he went on to mention that if that's the choice you make, every time you leave the house you should say "baaaaaa" like a sheep.

    But as part of the armed response group in the church I attend, I can say that I'd prefer to be considered "covered under the color of law" than acting as an individual, if something we all hope never would happen actually did.
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    Do you really think we want laws to be observed? We want them broken. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be crimes that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants law-abiding citizens? Pass the kind of laws that can’t be observed, enforced, or objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers.

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    XCR Guru TomAiello's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasChris View Post
    I think it sets an interesting precedent.
    Can you elaborate?

    Because it's a privatization of policing?

    Or because it's a religious organization?
    Last edited by TomAiello; 04-16-2017 at 03:01 PM.
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    XCR Guru TexasChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomAiello View Post
    Can you elaborate?

    Because it's a privatization of policing?

    Or because it's a religious organization?
    Yup. In so doing they are allowing the creation of a private police force, imbued with all the powers of the state, by an unaffiliated entity.

    What if we all moved to a small town, and started a police force, with the sole purpose of ensuring its general powerlessness? Protected our citizens from the feds/IRS/ABC? What an incredible place that could be.
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  10. #9
    XCR Guru TomAiello's Avatar
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    There's actually substantial legal precedent for the private police force (not religiously affiliated).

    They're usually affiliated with a large corporation, for policing their own property (much as in this case).

    I have a friend who works for one (in Canada, actually) which he describes as "Canada's largest private army." They are employed by a utility company to do security at nuclear power generation sites, and apparently have not-legal-for-civilians-especially-in-Canada weapons access--things like select fire M4's, RPGs and rocket launchers.

    As a place to start, there's some general info on wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_police
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  11. #10
    XCR Guru TomAiello's Avatar
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    There's an interesting article with some historical perspectives here: San Francisco's Private Police Force - Reason.com
    - Tom Aiello
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    ...I don't care, I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me...

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