‘Brookside Police Department leadership cast its enforcement dragnet too widely’: Special Report on Brookside PD released

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:44 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:45 PM CDT
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BROOKSIDE, Ala. (WBRC) - A special report regarding racial profiling in the Town of Brookside’s Traffic Enforcement Program was released by the city-appointed investigator, former Circuit Court Judge Ken Simon.

Simon led an in-depth and months long investigation into whether officers in the Brookside Police Department participated in racial profiling. The report was released on September 29, 2022.

Starting on Page 3 of the report Simon wrote, “Our analysis of Brookside’s traffic citations did not produce strong statistical evidence of racial profiling in traffic stops. Disparities in the rate at which drivers were stopped do not appear to be significantly different from the rate in which drivers’ racial and ethnic groups populate 4 Jefferson County. However, our analysis did find significant evidence of “selective enforcement” with respect to warning tickets. This analysis suggests that whites receive substantially more favorable treatment with respect to warnings than other groups.”

Brookside’s police chief resigned in January 2022 following accusations of aggressive policing. The interim chief and Town leaders announced reforms within the police department in February 2022.

The special report concludes with six recommendations for Brookside leaders and the Brookside Police Department. The conclusion reads:

We conclude our report by recommending that new Brookside Police Department leadership adopt specific policies aimed at targeting its law enforcement efforts in more strategic ways. First, it should avoid racial profiling and selective enforcement. Model policies and procedures adopted in many places around the country provide a new standard of professionalism for law enforcement organizations. 43 Brookside should consider such a policy. Second, the town would likely benefit from a relationship with a research organization to provide annual information on the existence of any red flags detected in statistical trends and patterns. Leadership should be aware that large-scale statistical analyses are inherently untimely and mask individual behavior. Careful examination of individual officer behavior is also important. The town could benefit from a formal complaint procedure to provide real time information on alleged racial profiling incidents – or incidents of alleged misbehavior of any kind -- at the individual officer level. Periodic review of bodycam video can be used to monitor and investigate possible profiling or other alleged misconduct. Third, police leadership and individual officers would likely benefit from training focused not only on racial profiling, but also on overall traffic enforcement strategy. Citizen and officer safety, and protection of constitutional rights, should be among the prime goals of such training. The goals should include elevating professionalism at each level of law enforcement and civilian oversight. Fourth, Brookside should avoid over-policing and overly broad traffic enforcement which creates the appearance of ticketing for revenue. Such an appearance is created when a vastly disproportionate number of citations are issued given the town’s population, and a high number of citations involve minor mechanical and traffic offenses. Over-policing can also create the perception of racial profiling when it appears to target minority citizens. Town leadership should be proactive in providing oversight, accountability, and checks and balances in the Department’s management and ensure that police operations comply with regulatory, judicial, ethical, and financial safeguards. Fifth, the town needs help in fighting drug trafficking. No community—small or large – can do it alone. Leadership at every level of government is required to make our cities and towns safer. We encourage Brookside to form more partnerships with local, state and federal authorities to fully take back the town. As we have seen, overly aggressive traffic enforcement is not the way forward. Smart, targeted strategies administered in an even-handed fashion will maximize results and public support for Brookside.

READ THE FULL REPORT BELOW:

The The Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts released an audit into Brookside in the Spring of 2022.

WBRC FOX6 News has reached out to the Town of Brookside leaders for a response to the special report, and we will update this story when we receive a response.

State Representative Juandalynn Givan isn’t surprised by the report. She agrees that there was selective enforcement.

“What happens is when it gets to be so egregious, when you go a little bit too far and you take it to an extreme as the city of Brookside did, it just wasn’t about selective enforcement, it becomes routine,” Givan said.

Givan is still pushing for change in Brookside and says those responsible should be held accountable.

“The police in the city of Brookside basically created their own policing system and for years have been able to get away with it and as the report says they endangered the lives of citizens and they should be held accountable for it,” Givan said.

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