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Alabama Church Police: 'God Squad' Bill Passes State Senate

Image: Alabama Church Police: 'God Squad' Bill Passes State Senate

This Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, photo shows the sanctuary at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, in Birmingham, Alabama. (AP Photo/Anthony Izaguirre)

By    |   Thursday, 13 Apr 2017 09:09 AM

An Alabama church police force, some may call it a "God Squad," is one step closer to reality after the state Senate voted Tuesday to allow a megachurch to form its own.

We’re not talking mall cops: These police officers would be armed and be authorized to make arrests, according to CNN.

Birmingham’s Briarwood Presbyterian Church said its “officers would be restricted to the church’s campuses and be able to respond to emergency situations while coordinating with local authorities,” The Daily Beast reported.

According to The Associated Press, the Alabama Senate voted 24-4 Tuesday in favor of the church police bill — a similar piece of legislation will go to the House next week — but the ACLU says it would be unconstitutional to allow Briarwood to have in-house authorized police officers.

"We think it's plainly unconstitutional as per the establishment cause of the First Amendment," ACLU Attorney Randall Marshall told CNN. "These bills unnecessarily carve out special programs for religious organizations that inextricably intertwine state authority and power with church operations. We urge the legislation not to pass these unconstitutional bills."

Church officials disagree, though, citing the need for safety among its congregation and the K-12 school that’s housed by the church.

According to the officials, the new legislation will ensure “a safe environment for the church, its members, students, and guests.”

This comes after horrific events like the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting and the 2015 Charleston church shooting that left nine people, including the church’s senior pastor, dead.

“After the shooting at Sandy Hook and in the wake of similar assaults at churches and schools, Briarwood recognized the need to provide qualified first responders to coordinate with local law enforcement who so heroically and effectively serve their communities,” the church said in a statement, according to CNN.

Briarwood Church police officers would have to be certified by the Alabama Peace Officer Training Commission in order to be on the force, The Daily Beast noted.

A state official said Wednesday that this matter is expected to be taken to the House next for further consideration.

Briarwood boasts a congregation of more than 4,000 people and 2,000 students in its school, according to NBC News.

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An Alabama church police force, some may call it a "God Squad," is one step closer to reality after the state Senate voted Tuesday to allow a megachurch to form its own.
alabama, church, police, senate, bill
367
2017-09-13
Thursday, 13 Apr 2017 09:09 AM
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