Alabama Town enlists police veteran to restore community trust | Alabama News

BROOKSIDE, Ala. (AP) — A police veteran has been tapped to help restore the image of a beleaguered city after allegations of aggressive for-profit policing captured national attention.

Henry Irby was introduced as acting chief of police for Brookside on Friday, al.com reported.

Irby, who retired as deputy chief of the Birmingham Police Department in 2018, said the ‘challenge’ of rebuilding trust within the community after the scandal at the county town police department of Jefferson pressured him to take the job.

“Where there is great challenge, there are also opportunities,” Irby said on Friday. “My career has been dedicated to building the necessary trust between residents and the police responsible for their safety.”

Former Brookside Police Chief Mike Jones resigned in late January shortly after al.com published an investigation detailing how the city’s police have mobilized in recent years to impose fines and charges to local drivers and passers-by on Interstate 22. As of 2020, nearly half of the city’s revenue came from fines and forfeitures.

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The second in command also resigned, as did several Brookside police officers.

Mayor Mike Bryan said Friday that the Brookside Police Force currently has only four officers, down from a maximum of 14. He said the City Court, which had dealt with the mass violations, had been suspended “until further notice, indefinitely”. Bryan also referenced reforms implemented after the report, including removing city officers from patrols on I-22.

“We can get policing here,” Irby said. “But we have to do it with the community. This is how we succeed. Because our goal is to have a Brookside Police Department that treats everyone with dignity and respect.

After the report was released, further allegations were made regarding mistreatment by Brookside police. At a town hall this week, more drivers said they were stopped for little or no reason, searched and had their property confiscated and police issued 11 or 12 tickets at a single stop road.

Bryan said all of these allegations will be investigated.

“These are horror stories and I hope and pray they aren’t true,” he said. “And nobody deserves that. And so by hiring a very capable person like Chief Irby here, we’re going to see through that process, and we’re going to try to determine if these allegations are true.

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