Police In This Tiny Alabama Town Suck Drivers Into Legal ‘Black Hole’


In 2020, Brookside collected $487 in fines and forfeitures for every man, woman, and child in town.

Brookside, a small town in Alabama with 1,253 residents and six miles of roads to patrol, has more than doubled its town’s income as fines and forfeitures rose 640 percent in the past two years. The city faces five lawsuits resulting from its aggressive ticketing and policing tactics. Residents and passersby claim officers often fabricate charges, use racist language, make up laws, and regularly conduct stops outside their jurisdiction. As revenue for the city has skyrocketed, police expenditures increased by 560 percent ($79,000 to $524,000) from 2018 to 2020. The previously one full-time officer force has added K9s, unmarked and highly tinted vehicles, gray uniforms without Brookside Insignia, and a riot control vehicle the townspeople call a tank. Along with results from months of investigative journalism, this article includes the stories of people who have been victims of Brookside’s aggressive tactics. 

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Key Findings:

  • Brookside reported just 55 serious crimes to the state between 2011 and 2018.
  • From 2018 to the summer of 2021, Brookside went from having one full-time police officer and a few part-timers to eight additional full-time officers and several part-timers.
  • There was a 1,478 percent increase in towing from 2018 to 2020.
  • The average police force has one officer for every 588 residents; Brookside has one officer for every 144 residents.
  • In 2018, revenue from fines contributed to 14 percent ($582,000) of the city’s total income; by 2020, it increased to 49 percent ($1.2 million).
  • From 2018 to 2020, total arrests in Brookside rose by 1,109 percent.
  • The town’s administrative expenditures rose 40 percent and overall spending by 112 percent from 2018 to 2020.
John Archibald
Advance Local Media LLC