Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday highlighted the success of the newly-formed Agriculture Rural Crime Unit (ARCU).
A new unit in the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the ARCU is tasked with investigating agriculture and rural crimes such as theft of farm animals and farm equipment. Since launching in June, agents have made 14 felony arrests and recovered stolen property estimated at more than half a million dollars in value.
"This is evidence of our how streamlining our state-level law enforcement will benefit the people of Alabama," Governor Bentley said. "These investigators will specialize in fighting and solving agriculture-related crimes. Agriculture is one of Alabama's top industries. We owe it to our hard-working farmers to devote as many resources as possible to protecting their property and their livelihood."
The ARCU is composed of 10 state investigators from four different state agencies. Those agencies are the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Public Safety, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and the Department of Agriculture. Lieutenant Gene Wiggins is the commander of the unit.
Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan praised the work of the newly-created agency.
"Shortly after the law enforcement consolidation legislation passed, Governor Bentley and Spencer Collier took advantage of this change to contact other state agencies and combine resources to create the Agriculture Rural Crime Unit," Commissioner McMillan said. "The unit is already a huge success, thanks to the wisdom of appointing Gene Wiggins to head the operation and the experience of dedicated officers from several state agencies."
Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier said the Agriculture Rural Crime Unit is an excellent example of streamlining law enforcement agencies to provide better services to the public.
"The new Agriculture Rural Crime Unit shows how state law enforcement can work collaboratively to combat criminal behavior," Collier said. "I want to thank Governor Bentley for his leadership in the creation of this unit, and we look forward to working with the agriculture community and local law enforcement to make this a model for the future."
A rural crime tip line has been established for members of the public to report a farm crime. People can call 1-855-75CRIME to speak with an analyst at the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center.