State officials are finally looking into the police force in the tiny Alabama town of Brookside, which saw a 640 percent increase in its fines and forfeitures revenue over two years, The Guardian reports. It looks like Brookside’s for-profit policing may finally be coming to an end.
The actions of the town’s police have been described by the director of the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice as a “posterchild of policing for profit.” The town has just 1,200 residents, but there is one police officer for every 144 people, higher than the national average.
Five federal lawsuits have named Brookside officers for made-up ticking practices which saw ticketing and towing of residents’ vehicles balloon in just two years. These practices have garnered the attention of state officials. Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth has called for a state audit. From AL.com:
I am extremely concerned about the circumstances that have been recently publicized regarding the Brookside Police Department,” Ainsworth wrote to Rachel Riddle, the Chief Examiner of Public Accounts. “Please accept this letter as an official request that the Examiners of Public Accounts conduct a full audit of the City of Brookside, focusing on, but not limited to, their police department, municipal court, general and departmental funds.
State rep. Juandalynn Givan wants heads to roll in the form of resignations, describing the town as a “ticking time bomb waiting to explode.” She described the town as if it was on the frontier. “It’s the wild, Wild West, and they created their own wild, Wild West.”
The ire from the state officials has already resulted in resignations. The same day that Lt. Governor Ainsworth announced the audit, Brookside’s chief of police Mike Jones resigned. A press release from the department didn’t give much insight as to why Jones resigned, only describing it as due to a “personal matter.”
Brookside isn’t alone in this for-profit policing situation, either. Democrats and Republicans in the state are coming together to do something about other small towns with the same problem. But Brookside could be the first step in the right direction.