Church cops? Congregation eyes its own unusual police force
"Briarwood Presbyterian Church already has more than 4,000 members, two private schools and its own radio station. And if administrators have their way, the wealthy congregation could soon add something that no other American church has: its own police force.
With a membership larger than many small towns, Briarwood has asked the state Legislature for permission to set up a private law enforcement department to watch over its flock and schools. The bill comes at a time when places of worship around the country are stepping up security, but a church-only police force raises constitutional questions that are ripe for a legal challenge. And opponents worry crimes could be covered up by the church.
'It's making the church take the role of the government,' said Richard E. Levy, a constitutional law professor at Kansas University. 'I would expect that if the law is enacted it would not be very long before it is challenged.'"