Proposed Bill Aims for State Control Over Local Police Departments Amid Rising Crime Rates

Proposed Bill Aims for State Control Over Local Police Departments Amid Rising Crime Rates

[] MONTGOMERY, Ala – In response to increasing crime rates in Alabama, two state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would enable the state to assume control of local police departments when necessary.

Republican legislators Rep. Reed Ingram and Sen. Will Barfoot are proposing a bill that empowers the attorney general or governor to appoint an interim police chief in situations deemed a threat to public safety.

“You need individuals at the top of the food chain in law enforcement who have the determination to prosecute and tackle those committing violent crimes,” Barfoot stated.

Ingram likened the proposed measure to the state's intervention in struggling school systems, emphasizing collaboration with city mayors while the state takes over key positions within the police department.

“We have a significant problem in this state, and we want to send a clear message to criminals: if you want to engage in such activities, you need to leave Alabama,” Ingram asserted.

The bill outlines specific criteria for state intervention, including situations where a police force has declined by more than 30%. 

The proposed legislation will not be considered until the next legislative session unless the governor calls a special session.

Everette Johnson, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, praised the proposal, highlighting the severe understaffing and overworking of local police departments. He hopes it serves as a wake-up call for city leaders, noting that police officers are “responding to calls nonstop and working in environments beyond their control.”

However, the bill has faced significant opposition. Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, whose city was specifically mentioned by the lawmakers, criticized the proposal. 

Reed stated, “Along with other mayors and municipal organizations across Alabama, I have significant concerns about legislation like this. At a time when collaboration is crucial, I urge Representative Ingram and Senator Barfoot to work with our local legislative delegation to find solutions rather than introducing bills that undermine municipal authority and interfere with a city’s right to self-governance.”

The Alabama Democratic Caucus also condemned the bill, issuing a statement: “We strongly oppose Rep. Ingram and Senator Barfoot’s pre-filing of a bill allowing the Attorney General to take over the Montgomery Police Department. This is unnecessary and sets a dangerous precedent for government overreach. The citizens of Montgomery deserve a local law enforcement agency accountable to their elected officials, not an outside entity. We urge Rep. Ingram and Senator Barfoot to reconsider this misguided proposal. It is clear they do not have the best interests of Montgomery at heart and are acting for reasons unrelated to the community’s well-being. It is concerning that they do not reside within Montgomery’s city limits, yet they seek to exert control over its police department. Their actions are unacceptable and must be opposed.”

Ingram pointed to Montgomery’s reduced police force numbers compared to the Montgomery County sheriff’s office as part of the rationale behind the bill.