Don’t Go to Alabama

Or you may regret it.

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….

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.

Yeah, avoid Alabama.  For a whole lot of reasons.  Etc.