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MADD voices concern over plan to limit ALE agents' arrest ability

Posted 5:40 p.m. Thursday
Updated 7:15 a.m. Friday

— Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has joined the chorus of concern about a provision in the North Carolina Senate's budget proposal that would limit the arrest ability of Alcohol Law Enforcement agents and officers for local Alcoholic Beverage Control boards.

ALE agents and ABC officers focus on alcohol-related crimes, but they often get involved in drug cases, investigation of illegal video poker and impaired driving arrests.

The provision, on page 239 of the Senate budget, says they can only work cases related to alcohol or lottery crimes or when other law enforcement agencies ask for assistance.

"Those powers seem to be significantly restricted and, again, from MADD's perspective, that would concern us," said Irene Dwinnell, leader of the statewide chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "We do support law enforcement, and we need law enforcement to have their powers to help us take drunk drivers off our roads."

Sen. Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes, the author of the provision, declined to comment Thursday, other than to say she hadn't heard any complaints from the ALE or ABC.

Earlier this week, she issued a statement that said, "The intent is not to limit their authority to enforce the law, it is to clarify their scope of jurisdiction.”

One of Randleman’s legislative aides sent documentation showing that her amendment softened the original language in the budget. The provision, which originally simply limited ALE and ABC agents to "investigatory and enforcement actions for any offense related to the ABC and lottery laws" had been amended to allow ALE and ABE agents to enforce other laws 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."

Still, Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, who voted for the unanimously approved budget amendment, was surprised at the apparent impact of the provision.

"So often these minor amendments get run in a budget that's voluminous, and people aren't even aware of the implications or sometimes the full implications are not even shared," he said.

"We should be giving them greater powers, not fewer powers."

McKissick said he hopes the provision is changed in the House version of the budget.

Sources told WRAL News that there's a turf war as the State Bureau of Investigation and ALE are put under the same leadership umbrella. But, no one was able to give a straight answer about the motive for the move to limit ALE and ABC authority.

7 Comments

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  • Jimmy Jones May 19, 4:41 p.m.
    user avatar

    Sen. Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes needs to be replaced. She lied about not receiving any negative feed back from the ALE or ABC. Two ABC association members tried to meet with her. She wouldn't meet with them.

    This is politics at its worse and unfortunately its a Republican doing it. SHAME!

  • Whitney Aus May 19, 12:30 p.m.
    user avatar

    Why limit the police powers of ALE and ABC? It won't save us or the government ANY money. In fact, it will cost us, as tax payers, more money. Mrs. Reams, why wouldn't you want more law enforcement out protecting you from criminals? Taking away general police powers from ALE and ABC will only HURT the general public. The one drunk driver that they pull off of the road could save your life...or even your family's life. Or how about the felon who was about to break into your home?

    I personally think this legislation is wasteful and reeks of political corruption. Sounds like Sen. Randleman is in over her head. Who did she accept money from?

  • Iwish Iwas May 19, 9:55 a.m.
    user avatar

    Ms. Reams, who stands to benefit from limiting their authority? Seems to me, that cops who work clubs, bars, stills, shout houses, ect, and are out late traveling the highway should have broad authority. If I'm paying taxes for them I want the most bang for my buck! And since I'm paying taxes to stop crimes and halt illegal activity I don't want the dope dealer to have to have an open fifth of liquor before ALE can stop him! And I sure don't want to waste the tax dollars when ALE has to call three two or three other police agencies to come help with a heroin deal or a drunk driver.
    This proposed bill seems very wasteful to me! And financially irresponsible!

  • Sherry Reams May 19, 6:47 a.m.
    user avatar

    All LEOs in NC have the same certification.
    so fact that they are certified is not relevant.
    Where they differ is in territorial and subject matter jurisdiction. ALE was created back when Jim Hunt needed a job for Phil Carlton and created CC&PS and the State ABC officers were part of the new department and renamed ALE Agents. The Sheriffs' Lobbyist was asleep at the switch and the Agents got all the powers of a peace officer generally. The Columbus County Sheriff would regret this when Operation COLCOR dropped on him. The Current law just makes ALE like all the other statewide agencies and gives them subject matter limitations. Rabbit Sheriffs, DMV Inspectors, NCSHP, SBI, DOI Agents, SOS Agents, etc all have the limits that the bill gives ALE.

  • Sherry Reams May 19, 6:47 a.m.
    user avatar

    All LEOs in NC have the same certification.
    so fact that they are certified is not relevant.
    Where they differ is in territorial and subject matter jurisdiction. ALE was created back when Jim Hunt needed a job for Phil Carlton and created CC&PS and the State ABC officers were part of the new department and renamed ALE Agents. The Sheriffs' Lobbyist was asleep at the switch and the Agents got all the powers of a peace officer generally. The Columbus County Sheriff would regret this when Operation COLCOR dropped on him. The Current law just makes ALE like all the other statewide agencies and gives them subject matter limitations. Rabbit Sheriffs, DMV Inspectors, NCSHP, SBI, DOI Agents, SOS Agents, etc all have the limits that the bill gives ALE.

  • Robert Swiger Sr. May 19, 3:40 a.m.
    user avatar

    MADD should be upset they need more agents.

  • Iwish Iwas May 19, 12:44 a.m.
    user avatar

    I quipped in the other story. But, watching Sen. Randleman run from WRAL, really makes this look bad. Is it cronyism or what? And can State Government not get along well enough to serve its purpose? You know, protect and serve?