Mobile Police Chief James Barber on Tuesday debuted a new video produced by the department giving both citizens and officers guidelines for respectful everyday interactions.
The 14-minute video, entitled “Respect for Everyone,” gives tips to citizens on how to avoid dangerous encounters with police officers.
In the video, MPD training Sgt. Charles Bagsby tells citizens to remain calm, to keep their hands where officers can see them, to address officers with respect, to disclose to officers if they are carrying a weapon, to tell officers their name and address, to answer questions truthfully, to comply with officers’ instructions and ask for help if they need it.
Bagsby also gave guidelines for officers on the video — guidelines Barber said were intended for both veterans and rookies in the department. In the video, Bagsby advises officers to treat all citizens with respect, to address adults as “sir” or “ma’am,” to speak clearly and slowly, to explain their reasons for an encounter, to repeat any instructions that aren’t followed and to use discretion in enforcing minor offenses.
“Equal, fair and respectful law enforcement will be the philosophy of the Mobile Police Department,” Barber told the Mobile City Council after showing the video.
Bagsby also tells officers to make decisions based only on the following reasons: witnessing a violation or crime; probable cause or suspicious behavior; or seeking information for public safety. He further advises to not make any decisions based on race, age, religion or gender.
In the video, Barber explains that even routine encounters between police and citizens can be stressful and frustrating.
Uber in Mobile
The council held over any decision on an amended ordinance that would make ride-sharing services, like Uber, available in Mobile. Council President Gina Gregory assigned it the Public Safety Committee and committee Chairwoman Bess Rich announced a meeting would be held on Tuesday, June 30, at 2 p.m.
Toby Roth, a Montgomery-based lobbyist representing Uber, told councilors there is demand for the ride-sharing service in the city and they are “excited” to be available in Mobile. He said until Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s announcement of the service last week, Alabama was one of only three states in the country that didn’t accommodate Uber.
Jarrod White, an attorney representing Mobile Bay Transportation, which is owned by State Rep. Margie Wilcox of Mobile County, mentioned safety concerns linked to Uber’s short-lived service in Tuscaloosa. He insinuated that an Uber driver there was found to have an expired license and was suspected of using drugs while driving.
Councilman John Williams criticized White’s remarks, asking for only proven facts when debating Uber legislation over the next three weeks. Councilman Levon Manzie, who co-sponsored the Uber ordinance with Stimpson, agreed.
White further urged the council to consider “a level playing field” when making any decisions on the smartphone, app-based service, specifically referring to differences in insurance coverage requirements and background checks for Uber drivers.
Meanwhile, Uber is currently operating in Mobile and will continue to have the green light as long as the amendments are on the table, Stimpson Chief of Staff Colby Cooper said. He said Mobile is following a formula used by 45 other cities nationwide that allows the service to operate pending council approval.
Paris Air Show developments
Mayor Sandy Stimpson, his spokesman George Talbot and councilmen C.J. Small and Fred Richardson were in France this week to attend the Paris Air Show. Within the past week, city and state economic developers have touted at least three new developments at Brookley Aeroplex, including the introduction of Paris-based Hutchinson Corporation to support Airbus’ final assembly line. Hutchinson may provide as many as 150 jobs supplying the aerospace industry with audio and thermal insulation, among other products. More news from Paris will be presented at next week’s council meeting.
In other business
The council approved three contracts worth a total of nearly $1.5 million for projects to upgrade sidewalks and ramps within the central business district to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The contracts went to Asphalt Services, AECOM Technical Services and Terracon Consultants.
The council also entered into a cooperative agreement with McGowin Park LLC to provide maintenance along Satchel Paige Drive.
The council also approved a contract with C. Thornton Inc. for sidewalks along Old Shell Road in the Village of Spring Hill. The $188,797 contract is mostly funded by $161,015 in federal transportation grants. There is a $40,253 local match, which the village is providing.
The council also approved a number of transfers Tuesday to allow for more ditch repairs citywide.
Finally, the council also approved a certificate of public convenience for Clifton Shaw, who asked the city to allow him to add a “high-profile function” to his sedan service.
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