Alabama lawmakers are one step closer to allowing a Birmingham-area church to establish its own police force.
The House Public Safety Committee approved a measure that would allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church to set up its own police department. Church officials say they need their own police force to keep their school and their more than 4,000 person congregation safe.
Critics of the measure say a police force reporting to church officials could be used to cover up crimes. Legal experts also doubt the policy would be Constitutional, and say the move would be ripe for a legal challenge.
Alabama has given a few private universities the authority to establish police forces, but never a church or non-school entity. The bill has already passed the state Senate, so it simply needs House approval and the Governor’s signature to become law.