MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama lawmakers plan to bring a bill to the legislature that would allow local law enforcement to use wiretaps.
HB17 also known as the ‘Agent Billy Clardy III Act’ is specifically written to allow Alabama law enforcement officials to use wiretapping to catch drug traffickers.
The bill’s sponsor, Representative Rex Reynolds, was formerly the Huntsville Police Chief.
The ‘Agent Billy Clardy III Act’ would allow investigators to intercept wire or electronic communications under certain circumstances.
“This is not just your average dealer on the corner of the street that’s being targeted okay? These are felons,” says Representative Andy Whitt..
The bill is named after Huntsville police officer Billy Clardy who was gunned down during an undercover drug operation in 2019.
“We suggest, maybe if there was a wiretap authority that could have been used in this case maybe that could have avoided or delayed or provided the officers on scene with additional information about this offender and how he may react in that type situation,” says Reynolds.
Right now, federal agencies can use wiretaps. When an Alabama law enforcement agency would like to use this tool they need to work with a federal agency.
“Its a great administrative tool to gain evidence on these major traffickers that are sometimes multistate offenders that we otherwise don’t know a lot about,” Reynolds.
Reynolds there are several steps the wiretap request must go through before an agency could use this tool.
“The affidavit has to go through SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) and ALEA (Alabama Law Enforcement Agency) and then the Attorney Generals office and finally to a judge for a signature,” says Reynolds.
If a law enforcement agency abuses this tool, Reynolds says there are both civil and criminal penalties.
Reynolds brought a very similar bill forward last session. The House passed the bill, but it did not go before a vote in the Senate due to the pandemic cutting the session short. Lawmakers tell me they expect bipartisan support on the bill in this session.