- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama church is a step closer to having its own police force.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would authorize Briarwood Presbyterian Church to employ its own police force. The bill now moves to the Alabama Senate.

A House committee has approved a similar bill, but the proposal has not yet gotten a floor vote.

The Birmingham-area congregation of 4,000 wants to create a police department to protect its church and school.

Church administrator Matt Moore told the committee that the Sandy Hook school shooting “changed everything” in terms of concerns about security.

The state has given a few private universities the authority to have a police force, but never a church or non-school entity.

Opponents worry crimes could be covered up by the church.

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