Alabama

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Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated Jan. 20, 2020

Summary

Key:

Legislation Achieved

Some Progress

No Progress

  • Demilitarization

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    No knock warrants
    1033 program
    Military-style training
    SWAT data

    Alabama a

  • For Profit Policing

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Civil asset forfeiture
    Quotas
    Cost of misconduct

    Alabama b

  • Broken Windows Policing

    Minor offenses
    Objective justification for stops
    Reporting stop details

    Alabama c

  • Accountability

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Reckless civil rights violation
    Independent investigation
    Qualified immunity

    Alabama d

  • Reinvesting in Communities

    Mental health response

    Education, housing, and community health resources

    Alabama e

Demilitarization

Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).

 

No knock warrants

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants. The state also has stand your ground laws, which could lead to violence in the execution of no knock warrants. Stand your ground laws allow people to use deadly force in self defense without first attempting to retreat.

1033 purchases

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments. Alabama was suspended in 2014 from this program due to incomplete paperwork, but resumed activity in March 2015 following a federal audit.

Military style training

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage.

SWAT data

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Civil asset forfeiture

No Progress:

Alabama has not fully addressed the issue of civil asset forfeiture. Law enforcement keeps 100% of the proceeds from forfeited property. It only takes a court’s ‘reasonable satisfaction’ that property is related to criminal activity to validate seizure. The burden of proof falls on the defendant (they have to demonstrate that they are innocent).

Quotas

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law ending quotas for low-level arrests.

Cost of misconduct

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Minor offenses

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law decriminalizing minor offenses that do not threaten public safety such as spitting and loitering. Disorderly conduct charges in Alabama (which disturbing the peace would fall under) can incur fines of up to $500 and/or several months in jail. In 2019 HB 96, a bill that would have reduced the penalty for marijuana possession to a fine was voted down. SB 165, a 2020 bill legalizing marijuana, passed in the Senate but died in the House.

Objective justification for stops

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description). Alabama code section 15-5-30 is a stop and identify law that allows officers to stop and question individuals who they suspect have committed, are planning to commit, or are about to commit a crime. Additionally, people in Alabama who have 3 felonies are required to carry a “felon card” as a special piece identification.

Reporting stop details

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found). The Alabama Open Records Act theoretically allows the public to access public police records such as disciplinary records and misconduct, but the implementation is poor.

Accountability

Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).

 

Reckless civil rights violation

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights. It relies mostly on federal law to handle civil rights violations and only has further legislation on age discrimination.

Independent investigation

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct.

Qualified immunity

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity. A high profile case in June 2020 was immediately dismissed because of qualified immunity, despite the fact that the plaintiff was coerced into taking part in a sting operation that resulted in the plaintiff being shot 5 times.

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).

 

Mental health response

No Progress:

Alabama has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police). Locally, Huntsville law enforcement participate in Crisis Intervention Team training programs to train police in mental heath crisis response and encourage officers to take mentally ill individuals to hospitals, not jails

Education, Housing, Community Health Resources

No Progress:

It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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