ALE agents worry Senate budget limits law enforcement abilities

Posted May 16

— A provision in the North Carolina Senate's budget proposal is raising concerns about law enforcement powers between Alcohol Law Enforcement agents and officers for local Alcoholic Beverage Control boards.

The provision, on page 239 of the Senate budget, appears to limit the authority of the ALE by restricting its enforcement powers solely to alcohol-related crimes. While ALE agents primarily investigate alcohol-related offenses, they have full law enforcement certification and authority, so they can handle any number of crimes, whether it's impaired driving, drugs or theft.

The budget provision appears to limit ALE and ABC officers from law enforcement actions unless they see a crime in the course of alcohol- or lottery-related investigations.

Those who follow impaired driving enforcement are worried that will mean fewer officers able to make those arrests.

Joel Keith, general manager of the Wake County ABC board, said he's concerned. If the House does not modify section 16.1.(d) in their budget plan, Keith says it could be "devastating" to enforcement efforts.

Sen. Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes, the author of the provision, said her intent was to "clarify jurisdiction," but an amendment still limits ALE agents to enforce other laws only under two conditions:

"When they have probable cause to believe that a person has committed a criminal act in their presence and at the time of the violation they are engaged in the enforcement of laws otherwise within their jurisdiction.

When they are asked to provide temporary assistance by the head of a State or local law enforcement agency or the head of the agency's designee."


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Joey Cuddington May 18, 8:29 a.m.
    user avatar

    Other than a reasonable sales tax, the state and each local county should not be in the business of selling whiskey. Use the tax dollars to fund the overseeing of lawful sales. A state law enforcement officer such as a trooper, SBI agent, wildlife officer, ALE agent should have full arrest power and territorial authority to arrest -- just like any local police officer or deputy sheriff does in their respective jurisdiction for any crime committed in their presence. It's a waste of manpower and resources for those officers to be restricted by jurisdictional subject matter....

  • Rick Fetter May 17, 5:31 a.m.
    user avatar

    Keep the agents if you like but please do away with the whole ABC system. The system kills competition and limits what we can buy. We have all seen the corruption in the local ABC boards over the years.

  • Alfred Barnes May 16, 10:38 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Yes, we need more nanny state!

  • Whitney Aus May 16, 10:24 p.m.
    user avatar

    To Cullen Browder: Thank you for writing about this story. It would be a shame to see this amendment pass, as it puts the public safety of all North Carolinians at risk. Kudos to you. Keep digging. There has to be more to this story. I smell political corruption.
    To Patrick and Rudy: You seriously want to reduce the number of people who can stop a drunk driver? Do you even know what this amendment means? Do you fully understand what ALE and ABC do?
    ALE and ABC agents do more than write underage drinking tickets. There is a consumer protection component to the job. They make sure that if you order top-shelf liquor, that you are served top-shelf liquor. I speak from experience, as I have been served watered down wine. I appreciate that there is someone who tackles these issues. I appreciate that we have agents getting drunk drivers off of the roads. I appreciate these agents who stymie underage drinking, prostitution, and HUMAN TRAFFICKING at seedy bars and clubs.

  • Patrick Murphy May 16, 6:46 p.m.
    user avatar

    Good. They should do away with the whole mess.

  • Rudy Bizzell May 16, 6:39 p.m.
    user avatar

    Both the ALE and ABC business should be gone.