BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - One of Alabama's largest churches is trying to create its own police department in what legal experts say would be an unprecedented move in the United States.
Alabama legislators are considering a bill that would let Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham establish a police force. Similar bills failed the last two years. This year's version is slated to be debated in the Alabama House before the session ends in May.
The church of 4,100 members says it needs its own police officers to keep its members safe, because it often can't hire enough off-duty officers to oversee its events and two private schools.
Critics say having a department that answers to church officials could result in crimes not being reported. There are also Constitutional questions at play.