Retired State Troopers Speak Out About Law Enforcement Consolidation
Big changes are coming to Alabama law enforcement. In January, the state’s largest policing agencies will be combined into one entity called the Alabama Law Enforcement agency.
That agency includes the Department of Public Safety, Alcoholic Beverage Control Police, Marine Police, Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and several others. When the legislature approved the proposal in 2013, many legislators said they did it to save money and streamline services. They also hoped to correct overlap between departments.
However, some retired state troopers says it does not accomplish those goals. On Friday, more than a hundred retried public safety employees met for an annual reunion in Montgomery.
“We’re concerned,” said Thomas Coleman, Junior. “There’s a lot in this that has not been well thought out, and it won’t affect me as a retired state trooper, but it will affect the public.”
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is headed by Secretary Spencer Collier. Collier was not available to talk on-camera, but a representative from the agency told us the plan is on track and will save money. The transition has been made over time, but will officially go into effect on January 1, 2015.
“The idea was there would be more efficiency if we consolidated all of those into one large entity. At times we had some agencies with more than they could do and others with maybe less than they could do,” said State Senator Dick Brewbaker, a Republican from Montgomery.
However, Brewbaker says there have been some unforseen complications, and he says he’s gotten calls from retired public employees who are worried about the direction their former departments may be taking because of the consolidation.
“While we definitely need to achieve all the efficiencies we can and save as much money as we can, we need to make sure we do it right, because the idea was to enhance public safety, not create confusion among our law enforcement community. I think the legislature is perfectly willing to take another look at the bill if that turns out to be what we need to do,” he said.
We also spoke to retired state troopers who told us they think it’s too soon to definitely tell what impact the consolidation will make. Retired Assistant Director of the Dept. Of Public Safety Harold Hammond says there are some changes he would like to see.
“I don’t know the exact number here, but perhaps 300, 350 troopers at maximum. They need help. They need more manpower on the road. The public needs it, and they deserve it,” he said.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency does have a website…where people can submit their suggestions or concerns. You can go to their website here.