Mike Jones, the police chief of Brookside Al., resigned Tuesday amidst accusations he set up a speed trap as a way to earn revenue for the town. AL.com reported that Jones used the police department to ticket motorists on many minor offenses as they passed the city on Interstate 22.
“This will confirm that earlier today, Mike Jones, resigned as the Police Chief for the Town of Brookside,” read Tuesday’s statement from town clerk Debbie Keedy. “Since this involves a personnel matter, the town has no further comment.”
On Wednesday, WIAT-TV reported a request by Brookside for the Alabama Peace Officer’s Standards and Training Commission to perform a compliance audit of the police department. The response by the agency was swift, and an audit was immediately initiated.
According to AL.com, Brookside’s primary source of income is now from the speed trap along I-22. From 2018-to 2020, town revenues from fines and forfeitures climbed more than 640%, totaling 49% of the $1.2 million budget.
Only 1,253 people reside in the small, one-time mining town in north Jefferson County, AL.com reported. According to reports, Jones built a ten or more task force of full and part-time police officers dedicated to patrolling I-22.
According to reports from WMBA-TV, a lawsuit filed in federal court argues that tickets written by officers along I-22 were unlawful.
Complaints about the Brookside police had been made to Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway.
“We get calls about Brookside quite regularly because they go outside their jurisdiction to stop people,” Pettway told AL.com. “Most of the time people get stopped, they’re going to get a ticket. And they’re saying they were nowhere near Brookside.”
Jones allegedly defended himself on Facebook to Alabama state senator candidate Lisa Ward.
“I strongly suggest you take the time to research the truth of the story before posting comments,” Jones supposedly messaged Ward. “Especially if you expect to run for public office [in] the state of Alabama.”
Jones’s resignation is sufficient but does not rectify a more significant issue, said Leah Nelson, research director at Alabama Appleseed Center.
The former police chief “is just a symptom of the problem,” Nelson told AL.com. “As long as criminal justice policy and tax policy is intertwined, we’ll see versions of Brookside pop up. We need policy reform.”