Special deputy cards at the center of debate

Evangelist Matt Pitt's Jefferson County Sheriff's Commission card.

After The Basement founder Matt Pitt pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of attempting to impersonate a peace officer, the Shelby County District Attorney Robby Owens spoke out against a card he believes gives some a false sense of power.

The card, which hails the receiver as a special deputy, is given out for recognition, according to Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian. Other police and sheriff departments and elected officials issue the cards, too.

"That commission card causes me some concern," said Owens. "I'd prefer that they weren't issued."

Calera Police arrested Pitt May 12th after police said he flashed blue lights in an unmarked vehicle on Interstate 65. Owens said Pitt claimed he had authority after the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office gave him a commission card. A similar case is pending in Alabaster.{}

"In both cases, they showed the card," said Owens. "In Matt Pitt's case, he felt like he had some deputized authority. He said he did."

Christian claims the person is the problem, not the cards.

"That doesn't make you a deputy sheriff or a police officer no more than buying a cowboy hat makes you John Wayne," he said. "Most people we deal with understand that."