By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
In another victory for Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston the Alabama House of Representatives passed his plan to consolidate law enforcement functions in the state of Alabama. Senator Marsh has worked on law enforcement consolidation for over a year. Senator Marsh has made simplifying and consolidating the myriad of Alabama government agencies and departments into something much more manageable and less costly his focus for the 2013 Legislative Session.
Currently the state of Alabama has twenty different law enforcement agencies. Marsh’s plan would consolidate that into just nine. Most uniformed officers including the state troopers would be in one agency and most detectives would be in a second state agency.
Senator Marsh said in a written statement, “Public safety is one of the essential functions of state government and this legislation represents a more targeted and coordinated approach that will better serve the people of Alabama. Numerous law enforcement officials and stakeholders have literally poured countless hours into studying this issue and developing the legislation we passed today. I particularly appreciate Governor Bentley for his leadership and support, and ultimately his commitment to making sure state government is living within its means.”
Senate Bill 108 combines elements of a plan that a Marsh led panel developed in June with recommendations from a Gov. Bentley appointed task force over the summer.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) said, “This legislation has been carefully crafted to provide important reforms that make our law enforcement stronger and give it the ability to operate more efficiently to protect the people of Alabama. Our State Troopers are overextended and have not received pay raises in many years. In addition, many areas in our state lack sufficient law enforcement resources to investigate crimes such as rural theft. I have been discussing these concerns with Senator Marsh, and I have received assurances from him that a portion of the savings this consolidation achieves will be reinvested to give our State Troopers the pay they deserve, a well-earned increase in their compensation, and to provide our state with agricultural investigators to protect our rural communities. I am confident that the involved agencies and employees will work together and benefit from this cooperative team effort. Our men and women in law enforcement deserve our gratitude for their daily dedication to our State, and I thank them for their service.”
The bill, SB 108, passed in the house 67 to 26. Some Democrats filibustered the bill, but ultimately the House Republicans simply passed a cloture vote and then voted to pass the bill. The Democratic lawmakers claimed that consolidation put too much power into too few people, particularly to a new cabinet position appointed by the Governor, the Alabama Secretary of law Enforcement.
The bill was carried in the House by Representative Mike Ball (R) from Madison and is endorsed by Governor Robert Bentley (R). According to reporting by Al.com’s Kim Chandler, Ball said, “The real intent is to take the law enforcement resources that we have and to manage them as effectively as we can.”
Marsh estimates that the total savings due from consolidation to be $260 million over the next ten years.