The governor plans to make state-level law enforcement more efficient in a comprehensive effort announced Tuesday he says will better coordinate state-level law enforcement services.
Governor Robert Bentley plans to make many of his changes via Executive Order. He plans to take additional steps using statutes he hopes will be approved in the upcoming session of the legislature.
This is in addition to law enforcement changes introduced last year.
“By reducing duplications in administrative functions, we can save taxpayer dollars while putting more law enforcement on the road,” Bentley said. “I have worked closely with law enforcement officials over a period of several months. It’s important that we continue to rely on the expertise of these law enforcement professionals who understand the needs of each agency.”
Right now, law enforcement functions are spread across more than 20 state agencies and departments. Bentley wants to reduce redundant administrative efforts and “focus more resources on strengthening the law enforcement services delivered to the public.”
The executive order he signed Tuesday creates the position of Senior Law Enforcement Advisor. Alabama Department of Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier will serve in this position.
In that role, Collier will:
• Emphasize the placement of more law enforcement officers in the field and minimize administrative redundancies within each agency
• Provide efficiencies through common purchasing, consolidate law enforcement fleet maintenance and create a unified communication infrastructure
• Establish a database of available state law enforcement resources and services to minimize duplications of effort and better coordinate training
• Serve as the primary point of contact for the Governor regarding state law enforcement issues
To carry out these goals the Collier is to work closely with the heads of law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Public Safety, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Insurance/State Fire Marshal.
“Under the direction of Governor Bentley, state law enforcement agencies have already made great strides in streamlining and coordinating operations,” Collier said in a statement released Tuesday.
Bentley said, “One directive I’m giving Spencer Collier is this: Every law enforcement officer, no matter what agency, when that officer encounters a problem, the officer will own that problem until the issue is resolved.”
The governor says “owning the problem” include, if need be, “just staying with someone on the side of the road until further help arrives.”
The legislation Bentley announced will be introduced in the next legislative session aims to:
• Absorb the law enforcement functions of the Alabama Public Service Commission, the Uniformed Division of the Alabama Department of Revenue and certain functions of the Law Enforcement Unit of the Alabama Department of Transportation into the Highway Patrol Division of the Department of Public Safety.
• Absorb the Investigative and Enforcement Unit of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and the Enforcement Division of the Alabama Forestry Commission into the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
• Absorbing the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center into the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
“These plans represent the best approach to improving efficiency in public safety,” Bentley said. “We are taking a rational and reasonable approach that will provide significant savings while increasing and supporting law enforcement officers in the field.”