Governor, top senator disagree on law enforcement proposals - | WBTV Charlotte

Governor, top senator disagree on law enforcement proposals


Alabama's top senator and the governor each have different views and methods to reach the same goal: trimming and consolidating law enforcement.

Sen. Del Marsh (R – Anniston) says he's met with law enforcement experts from around the country and the southeast in crafting his legislation to cut the state's law enforcement structure. Gov. Robert Bentley assembled a task force seven months ago to examine ways to reduce waste across Alabama's 22 different law enforcement divisions and agencies.

"My plan has everything Governor Bentley wants and more" Sen. Marsh said in an interview Wednesday.

Marsh's proposal would reduce the number of agencies that have law enforcement functions to 8, while moving many divisions within three larger entities, the Department of Public Safety, a Department of Investigations (formerly Alabama Bureau of Investigation) and a Department of Public Safety Training.

The Marsh plan would also create a new cabinet level position, "Secretary of Public Safety" who would oversee all three of the major units.

Some of the other smaller law enforcement divisions like the Ethics Commission, the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Mental Health would be among the few that remained as standalone entities.

"It's basically streamlining and condensing it and consolidating it to the point where it's more workable" Marsh said.

But Gov. Bentley made it clear at his press conference Tuesday where he rolled out his own similar proposal that he wasn't on board with everything in Sen. Marsh's plan.

"I showed my opposition to it by presenting my own plan" Gov. Bentley said.

The governor contends that his proposal is the best way to reduce the amount of redundancy within state law enforcement, because it doesn't require legislation for each piece to be realized.

Gov. Bentley commissioned a task force seven months ago to review ways for the state to reduce public safety spending while maintaining the same services and protections.

The task force provided the governor its final report several weeks ago. Gov. Bentley said he agreed with some of the task force's recommendations, but not all, which led to his proposal.

The governor proposed consolidating some smaller law enforcement entities like the enforcement divisions of the Public Service Commission and the Department of Revenue into the Department of Public Safety.

He also signed an executive order creating a new position of, "Senior Law Enforcement Advisor" which will oversee all public safety bodies in the state. Gov. Bentley appointed Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier to that job and he will maintain his role at DHS.

One issue the governor faces could be support for his version of law enforcement streamlining legislation. Sen. Marsh already has the pledged support of most of the Senate Republican supermajority, while the governor doesn't yet have a sponsor for his bill which he says will originate in the House of Representatives.

Sen. Marsh also pledged that his proposal will be one of the bills to pass the Senate in the 2013 Regular Session.

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