MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama lawmakers are closer to allowing a church to form its own police force.
The House Public Safety Committee approved a measure Wednesday that would allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church to establish a police department.
The Birmingham church says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe.
Critics say a police department that reports to church officials could be used to cover up crimes. Constitutional experts have also said the move would be for a legal challenge.
The state has given a few private universities the authority to have a police force, but never a church or non-school entity.
The bill has already passed the Senate and now moves to the full House.