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New Brookside interim chief looking to build trust back in the community

Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 10:47 PM CST
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BROOKSIDE, Ala. (WBRC) - We’re learning more about what’s next for the Brookside Police Department after Henry Irby was named the new interim police chief Friday.

Irby spent more than 30 years with the Birmingham Police Department. He was a deputy chief then an interim chief.

Irby understands the tough task ahead in Brookside after allegations that the former police chief turned the department into an aggressive traffic stop machine.

“Priority number one is to look at the rules and regulations and ensuring that officers are following them. The second area is to build trust with all the residents of Brookside. We can get policing right here, but we need to do it with the community,” Irby said. “I’ll be here for a while because we have some work to do.”

Despite there being a new interim chief, the policing controversy is far from over. A special investigator and others are looking into alarming allegations that involve many drivers who say they were unjustly pulled over by Brookside police. Some fearing for their lives. They also say they were forced to pay excessive fines and fees.

“I have been pulled over. I had to walk home with a car seat, my kids, grocery bags for no reason,” Christina Quartz said during a town hall this week.

So far, state leaders and Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway have heard those allegations at two town halls. State Representative Juandalynn Givan still insists that Brookside mayor Mike Bryan needs to resign.

“There’s no trust. The people have no confidence in the mayor. The calls that I’m getting, every call starts off with we want him to resign,” Givan said Thursday.

WBRC asked Bryan about that again on Friday.

“I’m not going to resign. I’m not going to abandon the town. I’m just not going to do it,” Bryan said.

As for the allegations surrounding the police force, especially during traffic stops.

“Those are horror stories and I hope and pray they aren’t true. Nobody deserves that,” Bryan said.

Bryan says he has full confidence in his new interim chief. He’s hoping Chief Irby can help get to the bottom of the situation.

“We have to get the respect and the understanding of our community, because again, who’s going to give us information about what’s going on in their community if they aren’t satisfied with us?” Irby said.

The municipal court in Brookside has been suspended until further notice.

There are now just four police officers Brookside. At one point, the department had 14. Chief Irby says he will be vetting those officers. Mayor Bryan also says you won’t be seeing the unmarked vehicles here. They are taking steps to make the department a lot more visible to the public.

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