A Tiny Alabama Town Is Growing Its Police Force by Fining Everybody in Sight
Jan 19, 2022 • 21:16
Birmingham News columnist John Archibald reports, “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.” According to the records Archibald reviewed, Brookside as of 2020 was arresting more people for misdemeanors than it has residents. The police there fine so many people that they have to direct traffic around town hall for the monthly municipal court because there are so many people there trying to contest the charges against them.
Revenue into the town jumped from $431,637 in 2016 to $1,233,469 in 2020. That jump wasn’t from tax receipts. The only commercial taxes generated in Brookside are from a single Dollar General store. The town raked in $610,000 in fines and forfeitures (from seizures of cars in traffic stops). Not only is half its budget coming from fining travelers, the amount the police are bringing in is more than its entire revenue stream just five years ago.