Three officers within the Mobile Police Department’s Narcotics and Vice Unit were given hefty punishments after an internal investigation showed misconduct following compliance checks at strip clubs.
During a Jan. 23 press conference, Chief James Barber outlined the punishments the three MPD officers received.
“On Aug. 14, 2013, the Narcotics and Vice Unit conducted compliance checks within the jurisdiction of Mobile. During those checks several violations had been noted and citations issued,” Barber said. “Officer Brandon Cotton, then a member of the Narcotics and Vice Unit, also participated in those compliance checks. He was found guilty of returning while off duty to one of the clubs and engaging in sexual conduct with an employee of the club.”
Cotton was found guilty of Conduct Unbecoming, Violation of the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics and Neglect of Duty. He was fired from the department.
The investigation found that the officer returned to Vixen’s after the compliance check and received sexual favors from a stripper, who had been cited. In exchange for the sexual favor, Cotton did not arrest the stripper on outstanding warrants nor did he turn in the citation.
The second officer punished was Timothy Johnson although the investigation did not find he received any favors of any kind.
“Officer Timothy Johnson on the same day returned to a different club,” Barber said. “Timothy Johnson had written several citations that day, but did not turn in any of those citations. There is no evidence that he received any sexual favors or any other favors.”
Johnson was found guilty of Conduct Unbecoming, Misuse of Position, Violation of the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics and Failure to Obey a Direct Order. He received a 240-hour suspension without pay.
The investigation found Johnson returned to the Candy Store on Aug. 14, 2013, after writing several citations. While there is no evidence of bribing or sexual favors, Johnson never turned in the citations he had written. Barber said the club or strippers may have “persuaded” him not to turn in the violations.
Lt. Ronald Brown was in charge of the Narcotics and Vice Unit. Due to the activities of Johnson and Cotton, he was found guilty of Failure to Supervise. He has been demoted to the rank of sergeant as a result.
Brown did not receive any type of favor.
The disciplinary trial for Cotton, Johnson and Brown concluded Jan. 21. The three officers will be able to appeal their decision to the Mobile Personnel Board if they choose.
This internal investigation comes on the heels of the probe into misreporting crimes and the on-duty sexual relationship between a superior officer and her subordinate.
Barber urged the public not to view the number of investigations as a problem, but rather as a sign that there is reform within the MPD.
“I think because there are internal investigations and because there is proper action being taken that (citizens) should have the utmost confidence in this agency,” he said. “In any organization especially the size of the Mobile PD — we have 800 employees — there are going to be incidents of misconduct. It’s how you deal with that misconduct that avoids getting into a situation where misconduct becomes systemic. What I mean by that where it is not corrected.”