Saturday, June 22, 2019

Alabama gov. signs law allowing Briarwood Presbyterian Church to have own police force

After several years of seeking to establish a private police force to adequately protect its church and school campuses, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed legislation allowing the Briarwood Presbyterian Church to do just that despite objections from critics.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Ivey approved the legislation some two week ago.
In a statement on the approval, Briarwood said that despite having a great relationship with local law enforcement agencies, establishing a private police force had become necessary because the state was unable to provide adequate security for the approximately 2,000 students and faculty of Briarwood Christian School located on two campuses in unincorporated Jefferson and Shelby County due to budget cuts.
“Briarwood also recognizes the state budgetary issues identified by the Emergency Task Force on School Safety and Security which coupled with the demand for APOST certified qualified first responders creates stress on our law enforcement departments. This can and does lead to full-time staffing issues for both campus locations,” the church said.
“Alabama Code 16-22 allows certain educational institutions to appoint and employ one or more suitable persons to act as police officers to keep off intruders and prevent trespass upon the institution property. The institutions currently provided the protection under this statute include a number that have less students than does Briarwood Christian School. We are grateful to the governor and our elected officials for approving our request to be added to the existing Alabama Code 16-22,” the church added.
The ACLU of Alabama argues, however, that the move by Briarwood to establish its own police force is a violation of the Establishment Clause that the church has been pursuing since 2015.
“These attempts to undermine the separation of church and state are a threat to our freedom of religion and a violation of the Establishment Clause. For that reason, we will continue to fight any plans to create a state-sanctioned, church-operated police force,” the organization said in 2017.
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