How Local Law Enforcement Agencies Work in Alabama

The state of Alabama consists of many agencies responsible for law enforcement, ranging from local to state agencies. Prior to January first (1st), 2015, Alabama’s state agencies consisted of twenty separate divisions, but on this date twelve of them combined into the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. There are now nine (9) separate state agencies in Alabama, local county sheriff departments, local city police departments, and college and university police departments. These agencies each perform their own duties, but work together for the common good of the state of Alabama. Each type of agency has its own unique duty, and local departments may differ from municipality to municipality, though they operate on similar basic means.

Alabama has many state agencies, each using its authority to maintain a different portion of the state’s peace and safety. Each of these agencies has jurisdiction throughout all of Alabama, but they operate under separate categories. For instance, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which used to be comprised of twelve (12) separate agencies that have since merged into one, offers state investigative, law enforcement, and supportive services to both citizens and local law enforcement agencies. However, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is responsible solely for the preservation of Alabama’s natural resources and parks. There are many more agencies, and each has its own specific arena of expertise across the entire state.

Local law enforcement begins with county sheriff departments who oversee law and order within their respective counties. Most Alabama cities have their own police departments which are answerable to the county sheriff departments, and they handle most day-to-day local law enforcement, patrolling, and emergency response.

Much of the state’s law enforcement agency resources are focused on Anniston, Alabama because it has the highest violent crime rate per capita. In fact, Anniston has a violent crime ratio of twenty six (26) per one thousand (1000) residents, when the national average is just five (5) per one thousand (1000). Alabama is focusing its efforts in solving Anniston’s crime problems on rehabilitation of youth, increasing funding toward state agencies that attempt to rehabilitate troubled youth without removing them from their homes and families, rather than sending them to juvenile detention facilities.

In dealing with adult crime, however, Alabama uses sentencing guidelines as a basis for punishment. Alabama even has a state agency, the Alabama Sentencing Commission, which is responsible for collecting information on sentencing, making recommendations to state and local authorities concerning criminal cases, and recommending solutions for the overcrowding of jails in the state of Alabama. Before this authority was introduced within the state, law enforcement agencies and courts had adopted a “zero tolerance” policy against crimes, instating harsh sentences against crime of most kinds. However, while Alabama has begun to change its strategy against many crimes, it still maintains what some consider to be a rigid code against many non-violent crimes. For instance, Class C felonies (like custody interference) that have been repeated are met with minimum sentences of one year and one day in prison.

In order to bring a suspect into police custody for such offenses, or others, an officer need not apply for a warrant if he or she has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed or if a crime is performed in the presence of an officer. However, in some cases, an officer may suspect probable cause but lack evidence. In this circumstance a search warrant may be obtained to uncover incriminating evidence that may lead to an arrest through lawful searches of private property. If there is believable reason to suspect a crime, a judge may grant a warrant to search any private property.

In the event that an individual is brought into police custody under criminal charges, bail becomes a prospect immediately after booking. For lesser charges bail is set automatically, and the suspect is allowed to post bail or consult a bail bondsman immediately. In the state of Alabama, bondsmen reserve the right to question all suspects to determine flight risk, and they can post bond for an individual should they be deemed likely to appear back in court.

All of these proceedings, as well as any other proceedings following bail, are already dictated by Alabama state law, with which any law enforcement agency is compelled to comply. Should a law enforcement officer fail to follow procedure set forth by the state of Alabama, any and all charges against an individual must be forfeited for the sake of justice. The state’s law enforcement agencies operate by rigid codes, and they work together to form a cohesive law enforcement unit to preserve peace and tranquility within Alabama’s communities.