Lawmakers to Consider Church Police Force

Mar 13, 2017

Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Ala.

One of Alabama's largest and wealthiest churches is trying to create its own police department in what experts say would be an unprecedented move.

State legislators are considering a bill that would allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to establish a police force. Similar bills failed the past two years. This year's version is set for debate in the House before this year’s legislative session ends in May.

The church says it needs its own police officers to keep its members safe and because it often can't hire enough off-duty officers to oversee its events and its two private schools.

Critics say having a police department that answers to church officials could result in crimes not being reported. There are also constitutional questions at play.