Sheriff, police to enforce laws in gated communities

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2005

The Alabama State Legislature passed a piece of legislation during its special session that could make gated subdivisions in Shelby County a safer place.

The bill, which died in the fallout of the 2005 Legislature’s regular session earlier this year, allows sheriff’s officers and police departments to enforce traffic laws in gated communities around Shelby County.

Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry said while law enforcement officers have always been allowed to enforce laws such as serving a warrant or conducting an investigation within the county’s gated communities, traffic laws have been unenforceable.

&uot;Only residents of gated communities have access to (the communities’ roads),&uot; he said. &uot;That makes them private roads. As a result, individuals in these communities give up protection when it comes to traffic enforcement.&uot;

Alabama Rep. Mike Hill, who spearheaded the bill through the Legislature, said developers had approached him from a number of gated communities in the county who wanted to find a way to enforce traffic laws.

&uot;I was approached by developers from the Greystone and Highland Lakes communities,&uot; Hill said. &uot;This bill was all about police protection for residents in those areas and ensuring their safety.&uot;

Curry cautioned, however, that the law does not guarantee that every gated community in the county will now have officers issuing traffic citations.

&uot;This does not mean that our office will assign personnel to patrol these areas,&uot; he said. &uot;Only in the course of our normal visits will we enforce traffic laws like speeding tickets and running stop signs.&uot;

Local homeowners associations will have to request the enforcement, Curry said.

Once a request is made by the community, officers will be able to patrol that area for a four-year period, at the end of which a new request will have to be made.

Hill said while Shelby County is the first county in the state to have such a law, officials approached him from other Alabama counties expressing interest in the bill.

&uot;I was approached by legislators from Baldwin, Tuscaloosa and Tallapoosa counties,&uot; he said. &uot;They were very interested in taking something back for their areas to look at.&uot;