COLUMN: Clanton PD will work to regain trust

Published 9:42 pm Monday, February 7, 2011

By Brian Stilwell | Special to the Advertiser

My department acted inappropriately and has lost some of the trust of the citizens we serve in dealing with the traffic stop of the Homewood police chief.

The actions of the officers that work for me are completely my responsibility, and I accept full blame for any loss in trust. The fact is the officer who made the stop is exceptional, well-trained, and serves the city of Clanton well.

Also, police officers have a large amount of discretion when it comes to performing their duties. We don’t know that the police chief was above the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol, and we will never know because we did not perform proper testing—and for that I am sorry.

So, what happens next? We will take our lumps, learn from this mistake, train, work to earn back what trust is lost, and continue to work toward enforcing the law fairly, honestly and justly to all those whom live, work or visit our beautiful community.

I hope I began that regaining of trust back by being forthright and not hiding or sweeping this incident under the rug. All of us who wear a badge, whether it is a shield or a star, need to remember that we are not above the law. We enforce the law, and we can only do that with the trust of our citizens—trust that is earned by our actions, our words, and by our faith.

We must be of the utmost character in both our professional and personal lives, be leaders in the community, and remember why we all got into this profession in the first place: to serve the public.

I again want to say this is a good officer who made a decision he thought was proper on the side of the road dealing with a chief of police—a decision that in hindsight was not correct. I accept full responsibility, I truly apologize, and I promise we will learn from this incident and become a better department and better officers today, tomorrow and in the future.

“Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking.” Thanks for allowing me to serve as your chief.

–Brian Stilwell is Clanton’s Chief of Police.