Raleigh, N.C. — 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."