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Alabama church closer to getting its own police department

Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Vestavia Hills is trying to establish its own police force.

Alabama lawmakers are closer to allowing a church to form its own police force.

The House Public Safety Committee approved a measure Wednesday that would allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church to establish a police department.

The Birmingham church says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe.

Critics say a police department that reports to church officials could be used to cover up crimes. Constitutional experts have also said the move would be for a legal challenge.

The state has given a few private universities the authority to have a police force, but never a church or non-school entity.

The bill has already passed the Senate and now moves to the full House.

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