So what might possibly be done to rectify this awful, intolerable situation?
Police in this tiny Alabama town suck drivers into legal ‘black hole’
Ramon Perez came to court last month ready to fight the tickets he’d been handed by Brookside police, including one for rolling through a stop sign and another for driving 48 mph in a 40 zone.
He swore he’d seen the cop from a distance and was careful as he braked.
“I saw him and we looked eye to eye,” the Chelsea business owner said. “There’s no way I was going to run that stop sign.”
When he got to court Dec. 2, he saw scores of people just like him lining up to stand before Judge Jim Wooten, complaining of penny-ante “crimes” and harassment by officers. He saw so many people trying to park in the grassy field outside the municipal building that police had to direct traffic.
He figured there was no point.
“I saw the same attitude in every officer and every person,” he said. “That’s why I hesitated to fight it. They were doing the same thing to every person that was there. They own the town.”
Perez, it appears, was right.
Months of research and dozens of interviews by AL.com found that Brookside’s finances are rocket-fueled by tickets and aggressive policing. In a two-year period between 2018 and 2020 Brookside revenues from fines and forfeitures soared more than 640 percent and now make up half the city’s total income.
And the police chief has called for more.
The town of 1,253 just north of Birmingham reported just 55 serious crimes to the state in the entire eight year period between 2011 and 2018 – none of them homicide or rape. But in 2018 it began building a police empire, hiring more and more officers to blanket its six miles of roads and mile-and-a-half jurisdiction on Interstate 22.
By 2020 Brookside made more misdemeanor arrests than it has residents. It went from towing 50 vehicles in 2018 to 789 in 2020 – each carrying fines. That’s a 1,478% increase, with 1.7 tows for every household in town.
The growth has come with trouble to match. Brookside officers have been accused in lawsuits of fabricating charges, using racist language and “making up laws” to stack counts on passersby. Defendants must pay thousands in fines and fees – or pay for costly appeals to state court – and poorer residents or passersby fall into patterns of debt they cannot easily escape.
“Brookside is a poster child for policing for profit,” said Carla Crowder, the director of Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, a nonprofit devoted to justice and equity. “We are not safer because of it.”
Brookside is a poor town, 70% white, 21% Black, with a small but growing Hispanic population and a median income well below the state average. The town survives on the fringes of Birmingham with tax revenue from the Dollar General, which forms the totality of its commercial district.
In 2018, when the town had one full-time police officer and a few part-timers, it reported no serious crimes to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center. Brookside Police did patrol the 1.5-mile stretch of Interstate 22 within their jurisdiction and wrote tickets that brought in $82,467 in fines. That contributed a 14% chunk of the city’s total income, a number that would be considered high in much of America.
Bad as all that inarguably is, don’t let yourself be flummoxed or distracted by it; eventually, you knew we’d come to this:
By 2020 officers in the sleepy town were undergoing SWAT training and dressing in riot gear, even as the city continued with only a volunteer fire department. It parked a riot control vehicle — townspeople call it a tank — outside the municipal complex and community center. Traffic tickets, and criminalizing those who passed through, became the city’s leading industry.
And there we have the most damaging, destructive, and dangerous development to occur in American law enforcement since I can’t remember when: the militarization of the police.
“When you look at their Facebook pages it’s almost like they are bullies. I’ve seen it,” DA Carr said. “I don’t condone it, but you know, I’m not the chief out there.”
And it’s not an idle threat. Arrests on Brookside warrants went from zero to 243 in the span of two years, according to statistics Chief Jones presented to the council.
Jones — again as Mayor Bryan nodded — said the goal of the department is only to help people.
Yeah. Right. Assholes.
“It’s not about making a dollar,” Jones said.
Like hell, you lying Nazi piece of pig shit. Then again, he’s not all wrong here; it’s NOT exclusively about the bucks he’s thieving. It’s also about being able to abuse, oppress, and harrass the Serf Class yeomanry without legal stricture or consequence. Ahh, the intoxicating, heady pleasure of running roughshod over whoever you wish, any time you wish, without possibility of censure or retribution. Until the frabjous day when you choose the wrong person to victimize and get a bullet in your brainpan for your savagery. That would be a far swifter death than you deserve, but at least your unconscionable spree of lawless brutality would be brought to a permanent end.
In December the mayor provided AL.com a budget document, based on previous years’ audits. It did not feature a breakout of the police department.
Asked why that was the case, Bryan responded there had been an error, that the heading for the ‘Municipal Court Fund’ was actually the police department budget. “Sorry for the typo,” the mayor wrote.
That document budgeted $646,620 to the police this year.
The town also provided a set of police stats Jones presented to the Brookside council to push for more resources and authority.
It showed that total arrests – custodial, misdemeanor and felony – rose 1,109% from 2018 to 2020. Brookside police made 4.4 arrests in 2020 for every household.
It showed police in 2020 patrolled 114,438 miles in the 6.3-mile town and issued more than 3,000 citations – a 692% increase from 2018.
“We don’t care about tickets,” Jones said. “We don’t like writing tickets.”
Holy mother of God, the balls on these lying, amoral swine. The story goes on at some length from there, but I had to break away at that point before the throbbing headache it had given me intensified into literally life-threatening status. Cynical as I am, distrustful of authority as I’ve always been, this one still left me slackjawed and wide-eyed with shock, disbelief, and absolute horror. The very idea of outlandish corruption this extreme taking place in an American small town in the year of our Lord 2022 is absolutely staggering. But even after reading as much as I did of it, then sitting back for a few minutes just trying to take it all aboard and reason it out, I still haven’t come up with an answer to my opening question. I don’t know that I ever will.
I can tell y’all one thing, though: if BLM and the Defund Po-Po mob showed up one day and got all up in some Brookside faces, they would have my vociferous and unattenuated support for once. Thuggish cops like these Alabama fiends are going to wind up getting good cops killed right along with the predators. It’s a damnable shame and disgrace; makes me glad all the cops I’ve been either friends or related to have long since retired, which they tell me unanimously they’re extremely happy about.
These fellas—decent, humane, and likeable guys to a man, a pleasure to sit at the bar or grill burgers and dogs in the backyard with—don’t even recognize the job they once treasured anymore. So alien has policing become, so antithetical to the Peace Officer role they once gladly dedicated themselves to, that not a one of them would the slightest interest in having any part of it today.
All through the Trump Presidency, most especially during the Fauxvid lockdowns, from Australia to Canada to Europe to right here in the States, too many cops let their fascist flags fly, eagerly obeying unlawful orders to break up perfectly lawful and orderly protests, often violently; giving violent pAntifa/BLM rioters, looters, and arsonists carte blanche to wreak billions in damage to American cities; clubbing down harmless J6 protesters, then jailing them without charges in solitary confiment for months, blandly making mock of the now-moribund US Constitution and its toothless guarantees of “unalienable rights.” They’re sowing the seeds of their own destruction, siding with those who can’t get enough of that Defund ‘Em stuff against what was once their natural base of support. We’ll see how that works out for ’em in the end.
Via J Kb at GFZ, who sums up nicely: If there ever was a town begging for a fully armed and armored killdozer to set things right, this is it. Got that right, J.