Justice Department investigation into Alabaster PD continues

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2003

The United States Department of Justice probe into the Alabaster Police Department continues.

The DOJ is investigating whether the Alabaster Police Department is or has been engaging in a pattern or practice of violating individuals’ federal civil rights.

That’s the word from Alabaster city attorney Frank S. James III.

Representatives from the DOJ spoke with residents of the Simmsville community in Alabaster. The Simmsville community is comprised mainly of minority residents.

According to James, &uot;The city of Alabaster is cooperating fully with the DOJ’s investigation, even though it has not been advised of the nature of any complaints that may have led to the investigation.

&uot;The DOJ investigating team has advised the city that it begins the investigation with no pre-conceived notions, that it does not assume that there is a problem to be corrected,

that its investigation is of the APD as a unit, is not directed toward individual members of the APD, and is not concerned with any alleged violations of the criminal laws,&uot; James said in a statement released to the Reporter last Friday.

Also, according to James, &uot;Alabaster Mayor David Frings and APD Chief Stanley Oliver welcome the investigation and hope that it will result in recommendations that will benefit the citizens of Alabaster.

James said the city has no specific idea of the reason behind the investigation; however, city officials remain &uot;confident of a favorable outcome.&uot;

Alabaster’s only black City Councilmember, the Rev. Bobby Harris, had positive words to say about the city’s current police department.

&uot;This investigation was not initiated by us (Harris or the citizens of the Simmsville community). The Justice Department asked the city to allow them to come in and look at the Police Department.

&uot;It was interested in the Police Department. There had been allegations years ago about racial profiling in the community. But I don’t think it has anything to do with today,&uot; Harris said.

Former Alabaster Police Chief Larry Rollan disagreed however, indicating the investigation had nothing to do with past actions of the department.

&uot;The Justice Department investigation in Alabaster is to ascertain whether or not the current administration is properly delivering police services,&uot; he said in a statement issued Tuesday morning. &uot;If the investigators find that services are not being properly delivered, they can obtain a court order for certain practices and patterns to cease and desist. This, in no way, could be directed at the previous administration.&uot;

Rollan claimed that &uot;some politicians have misguided the media on the true focus of the investigation.&uot;

&uot;It is saddening that the only way some politicians can make themselves look good is to try to make their predecessors look bad,&uot; he said.

Justice Department officials could not be reached for comment.

Councilmember Harris commended the efforts of the current Police Department and its leaders.

&uot;The Police Department today is making a concerted effort to work with the citizens of this community. I want to commend Chief Oliver and Mayor (David) Frings for their cooperation.&uot;

Harris said Justice Department personnel spoke with about 20 people from the Simmsville community.

The Reporter attempted to contact residents who were interviewed by the Justice Department; however, those attempts were unsuccessful.

James said the city would not comment further until the investigation and its outcome are complete.

However, according to James, by letter dated Dec. 19, 2002, the Criminal Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division advised Chief Oliver that it had closed its file on the FBI’s investigation to determine whether a federal criminal prosecution could be brought concerning allegations that former APD officers had violated the civil rights of Linda Castillo and Kevin E. Mixon, an investigation initiated at the request of Mayor Frings.

Birmingham attorney Jason Wollitz reportedly filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Mixon last year accusing Oliver and former police chief Larry Rollan of allowing police to stop and arrest blacks and Mexicans solely due to race or ethnicity.

Wollitz declined to comment via his secretary