Huntsville City Council discusses changing arrest law

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — On Thursday night, the Huntsville City Council discussed the possibility of police charging people with misdemeanors rather than taking them to jail.

Representatives from the police, city court and city attorney’s office have spoken out in support of a proposal to change a law they say puts law enforcement in the city of Huntsville at a disadvantage.

More than 30 years ago, the state legislature gave its cities the ability to issue summons instead of making arrests for violations that police say are a waste of time. These incidents include serving a summons for a noise ordinance, littering, and violating the leash law.

In August 2021, this law was amended by the legislator who says that you can now be arrested for these simple violations. The city of Huntsville created an ordinance to implement the arrest law which is still in effect today.

Lawyers and city officials are asking the council to introduce the legislation. Huntsville Deputy Police Chief Dewayne McCarver told News 19 it was simply a move to get those cases to the judges without going through that cumbersome process of booking people.

“Throughout my nearly 28-year career, we’ve always issued these summonses and complaints instead of making arrests for things like littering and loud music violations in vehicles,” McCarver said. . “We just want to keep doing what we’ve always done. We don’t ask for change, we ask to stay the same. Basically, we don’t think it’s a good practice or an effective practice or even a fair practice to make arrests for such minor violations.

Even if the board decides to vote for the change at a regular meeting, it won’t happen immediately.

The council is expected to ask state lawmakers to pass a bill authorizing the change.


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