Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced comprehensive plans to further streamline and better coordinate state-level law enforcement services, a move that will lead to stronger public safety and greater government efficiency.
Currently, more than 20 state-level agencies and departments have various law enforcement functions. By improving coordination between those agencies, the Governor's plans will help minimize redundancies in administrative functions and focus more resources on strengthening the law enforcement services delivered to the public.
"The end result will be improved public safety," Governor Bentley said. "By reducing duplications in administrative functions, we can save taxpayer dollars while putting more law enforcement on the road. In outlining these plans, 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."
A large portion of the Governor's plans can move forward immediately by executive order. Governor Bentley also plans to further his efficiency efforts through upcoming legislation that is currently being finalized.
Governor Bentley's executive order, signed Tuesday and effective immediately, will allow state-level law enforcement agencies to build upon recent efforts to improve coordination. Specifically, the executive order creates the position of Senior Law Enforcement Advisor. Alabama Department of Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier will serve in this position.
Responsibilities of the Senior Law Enforcement Advisor will include:
* Emphasizing the placement of more law enforcement officers in the field while minimizing administrative redundancies within each agency
* Providing efficiencies through common purchasing, consolidation of law enforcement fleet maintenance and a unified communication infrastructure
* Establishing and maintaining a database of available state law enforcement resources and services in a manner that will minimize duplications of activities and better coordinate training
* Serving as the primary point of contact for the Governor regarding state law enforcement issues
The Senior Law Enforcement Advisor will ensure greater coordination by working closely with the leadership of all state agencies providing law enforcement or public safety functions, including but not limited to:
* The Alabama Department of Public Safety
* The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board
* The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
* The Alabama Department of Homeland Security
* The Alabama Department of Insurance / State Fire Marshal
"We want to make law enforcement even more effective for the citizens. 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," Governor Bentley said. "Even if it's just to stay with someone on the side of the road until further help arrives, I want to make sure all officers from all agencies increase their coordination in serving the public together."
Governor Bentley also announced Tuesday that legislation aimed at further streamlining state-level law enforcement is currently being finalized and will be submitted to the Alabama Legislature during the 2013 Regular Session.
The legislation will call for absorbing 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.
Legislation will also call for absorbing 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. This will help farmers and landowners by further protecting land and resources. Upcoming legislation will also call for 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," Governor 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."
In the months since Governor Bentley established the Integrated State Law Enforcement Task Force, state agencies have already coordinated services in new and beneficial ways. For example, the Department of Public Safety worked with Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Enforcement Agents in a Labor Day Traffic Blitz that resulted in a much more visible law enforcement presence. This serves as a strong example of how agencies can efficiently coordinate their efforts in a way that improves public safety.
"Under the direction of Governor Bentley, state law enforcement agencies have already made great strides in streamlining and coordinating operations, and the plans announced today will ensure that continues," said Spencer Collier, Director of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security and Senior Law Enforcement Advisor. "I am committed to the Governor's mission of increasing efficiency, and I look forward to serving Governor Bentley as Senior Law Enforcement Advisor."
"I applaud Governor Bentley for bringing together people with a wealth of experience in law enforcement to enact these plans for greater efficiency," said Colonel Hugh McCall, director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety. "We stand united with our state-level law enforcement partners. By building upon our cooperation with each agency, we will strengthen the services we provide to the public."
"I appreciate how Governor Bentley has listened to the input of law enforcement and has considered the individual needs of each agency, and the public we serve, in developing his plans," said Gunter Guy, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "We share Governor Bentley's vision for improved coordination and improved public safety in Alabama."