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Senate votes to give DAs more freedom on the appointment of investigators

The appointment of investigators by a DA would not be subject to a county personnel system.

Then-Majority Leader Greg Reed presides over the Alabama Senate in 2018.

The Alabama Senate met for day 10 of the 2021 Legislative Session on Tuesday, and the Senate passed legislation allowing district attorneys to appoint their own investigators. Senate Bill 87 is sponsored by state Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham.

According to the bill synopsis, under existing law, a district attorney may appoint investigators subject to any local law on the appointment. This bill would provide that the appointment of investigators by a district attorney would not be subject to a county personnel system.

The legislation reads:

“Unless otherwise provided by local law, the district attorney of any judicial circuit in this state may appoint a chief investigator and, from time to time, additional investigators who will each be a peace officer pursuant to Section 6-5-338. The chief investigator and other investigators shall serve at the pleasure of the district attorney. The chief investigator and any additional investigators shall meet the minimum standards for law enforcement officers and hold a current certification from the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission. The chief investigator and other investigators shall have the same authority as deputy sheriffs and other law enforcement officers in this state. They shall be responsible to the district attorney and shall perform duties as assigned by the district attorney.”

Sen. Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville said, “Thank you for bringing this legislation. District attorneys need their own investigators.”

SB87 passed the Alabama Senate by a vote of 28 to 1. The bill now goes to the Alabama House of Representatives for its consideration.

The Senate will meet on Wednesday for day 11 of the 2021 Legislative Session. A regular legislative session can last a maximum of 30 days, though they can adjourn before that.

The primary purpose of the regular legislative session is to produce budgets for the coming fiscal year. Neither budget, education nor state general fund, has yet passed out of either the House or the Senate.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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