Change of Heart: Mayor Willing to Support Advisory Council

After strong opposition, Mayor Sandy Stimpson now says he is open to the idea of a Citizens’ Advisory Council to work with the police department.

Previously Stimpson said he was concerned about the added bureaucracy the committee would create, but Monday said he would compromise to help ensure transparency and a better understanding of law enforcement tactics, policies and procedures.

“I think that it is with an open mind that I can support a Citizens’ Advisory Council if the purpose of that council is to help in the communications between our citizens and our police department,” said Stimpson.

At this point the mayor’s plan is just a proposal and does come with conditions:

1. All Appointees will go through a modified Mobile Police Department Citizens’ Academy, or must be a graduate thereof;

2. Appointees will be required to participate in Quarterly Ride-Alongs in their district/precincts;

3. Citizens’ Advisory Council has a sunset clause of January 1, 2021;

4. In addition to the City Council’s 7 appointees, the Mayor will also have 7 appointees (one from each Council district); and,

5. Add Ex-Officio Members to include the U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of Alabama; and, the FBI/Mobile Division Special Agent-in-Charge.

Mayor Stimpson said, however, he does not want the council to be an oversight committee that would have any jurisdiction over the police department.

“We don’t need control or oversight or to lay another layer of bureaucracy on top of the police, rather we need the input from citizens so that we can be more effective in our policing within our own communities,” said Police Chief James Barber.

Council sponsors (Fred Richardson, Levon Manzie & C.J. Small) of the Advisory Council Ordinance issued a statement after the mayor’s announcement.

“We appreciate the Mayor’s turn around on this issue. It’s a positive step for the city that he now sees the value of engaging our citizens in an effort to bring together these groups to address incredibly important issues in our communities. We are happy for these thoughts to be among those on the table when this issue is discussed next week at a public meeting of the Public Safety Committee. The more input we get, the better,” read the statement.

The council is expected to vote on the matter August 9.

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