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New bill allows law enforcement officers to issue court summons, ticket instead of arresting someone

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 9:44 PM CDT
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FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - This month, Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill that will allow law enforcement officers to issue a court summons, or a ticket, instead of arresting someone.

However, the Florence Police Department has already been implementing that policy. So far, the result is less overcrowding in the jail.

All of this started right here at the Florence Police Department.

“It brings three years’ worth of work kind of to a combination to where you can say hey we did something positive for that’s going to not just help the city but is going to help law enforcement across the state,” said Captain Brad Holmes.

Three years ago, Captain Brad Holmes wrote Senate Bill 59.

It authorizes officers to issue a summons, or tickets, instead of arresting someone accused of a non-violent misdemeanor crime.

State Senator Tim Melson took the bill to the State House. He continued to present it to the legislature until it was passed into law.

“I thought it was a win-win for both the arresting officer to have the option and the person committing the misdemeanor to have the opportunity to say hey you know I goofed up. Can you write me a ticket instead of running me in,” said Melson.

Some agencies were already utilizing parts of the law during the pandemic under Governor Kay Ivey’s public health order.

“When COVID happened, we began discussing this with our municipal judge and then of course when the governor came out with her public health order that allowed it, we began implementing it here in the city of Florence and it’s been very successful,” said Holmes.

It’s a success with the potential to spread.

Now, that the bill is signed into law, leaders in each municipality across the state can choose to opt-in.

Captain Barnes said this is a step in the right direction for criminal justice reform.

“It shows that we are trying to be a progressive agency that the only tool doesn’t have to be incarceration. So, I think so I think the citation option is going to be something very important as we move forward in law enforcement,” said Holmes.

So what’s next?

The Florence City Council just needs to adopt the required ordinance for the Florence Police Department to continue utilizing the policy.

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