The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

February 17, 2013

Fraternal Order of Police should be cheered on law

The Anniston Star on the proper way to legislate:

Legislation often is proposed because lawmakers want to draw attention to themselves, puff-up their reputation or challenge their opponents and dare them to oppose their idea.

In other words, politics.

So it’s refreshing to see legislation being written the way legislation should be.

Alabama law enforcement had a problem. Under state law, second-degree burglary is committed “when a person unlawfully enters a lawfully occupied residence with intent to commit a theft or felony inside.” Well, that should be illegal.

The problem, however, is that “lawfully occupied” is interpreted to mean the homeowner is home. So burglars wait until the homeowner leaves and then breaks in. If the burglar is caught, the crime is considered third-degree burglary and the punishment is considerably less harsh. The milder the penalty, the more willing burglars are to take the chance.

The Alabama Fraternal Order of Police legislative committee recognized the problem and came up with a plan to change the law so that it would read that if someone “enters a livable dwelling-house whether occupied or not with intent to commit a theft or a felony therein,” it would be second-degree burglary. The committee asked Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston, to review their idea and prepare a bill that would address the problem.

Wood did just that, and the bill will be introduced in the Legislature soon.

This page urges our representatives and senators to support the measure.

This page also commends the Fraternal Order of Police and Wood for showing us, once again, how our legislative system is supposed to work. Little fanfare or hype. A problem recognized and a problem addressed.

This is how it should be done.

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