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Rogue Alabama Police Department That Preyed on Motorists Condemned Even by Fellow Cops for Extorting Motorists

by Jo Ellen Nott

In nightmarish tale from Alabama, a small town’s police department lead by a new police chief hell bent on padding his department’s revenue near the state’s capital shook down hundreds of unfortunate motorists in a period of three years. From 2017 to 2020, the revenue from traffic stops skyrocketed from $51,000 to $610,000—the result of a shocking over-policing and pretextual stops of unsuspecting and unfortunate drivers who used the highways near Brookside, Alabama. How egregious was it? Even other police condemned it publicly.

Chief Mike Jones was hired in 2018. By 2020, the town of Brookside’s revenue from fines and citations had risen by a startling 600%. The new police chief hired seven more officers and procured a United States military light tactical vehicle and two drug-sniffing canines. As part of the traffic enforcement extortion tactics used under Jones’ command, officers often wore uniforms without Brookside identification and drove unmarked vehicles.

Jones’ thuggish behavior did not go unnoticed. The county sheriff received complaints about the shake downs. A district attorney characterized the town as a blackhole whose cops deprived motoring citizens of their rights, harassed them, and issued bogus citations. In televised town hall meetings Alabamians gave testimony of their experiences with Brooksides’ “finest”:

-woman told to strip buck naked or they would dock her for fleeing the police

-man’s vehicle seized along with his gun and left to walk for three hours for help

-female approached in a traffic stop by enraged officer with his gun drawn, causing her to fear being raped or murdered in her own car

-male commercial driver with no traffic violations in 20 years ticketed for “move over law” when he could not move over due to 18-wheeler beside him

-male given a $5,000 citation for an improper light

-female nursing student paying fines she cannot afford and worried about her future employment prospects with a ticket on her record

-others shared outrageous stories of getting 11 or 12 tickets in one traffic stop

The town’s governing body has not sought to discipline the police department and none, even the mayor, has chosen to step down in the face of the scandal. When the department’s indefensible behavior made national news, Chief Mike Jones was forced to resign. The city of Brookside, in addition to searching for a new police chief, is facing at least four lawsuits for redress against the outrageous behavior with one of them threatening to become a class action lawsuit.

In a rare turn of events, the Brookside PD faced reprobation from fellow law enforcement.

The sheriff of Jefferson County instructed aggrieved citizens at one of the town halls to go to court and fight the ticket, encouraging them to plead not guilty. Most of the Brookside PD has resigned in the wake of the national exposure.

Sources: techdirt.com, wvtm13.com

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