City of Andalusia launches Law Enforcement Advisory Committee

Published 10:27 am Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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The City of Andalusia is forming a Law Enforcement Advisory Committee resulting from a meeting Mayor Earl Johnson and Councilman Joe Nix held with community stakeholders on Sunday afternoon.

The meeting was set after a local woman, Twyla Stallworth, through her Georgia attorney, accused the Andalusia Police Department of racism during her arrest on Feb. 23, 2024. The woman has not filed a complaint with the police department, but the allegation was made in a press release issued by her Georgia attorney and circulated widely online.

While standing on her front porch, the woman was arrested for refusing to show her identification when an officer responded to a neighbor’s complaints about her violation of the city’s noise ordinance.

An 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling recently changed the interpretation of Code of Alabama, Section 15-5-30, authorizing peace officers to demand identification. The Court’s ruling states that individuals are not required to present identification while on private property. However, there are a number of exceptions to that rule, which could cause confusion.

On Friday, Mayor Earl Johnson issued a public apology to Ms. Stallworth for her arrest, and announced that all charges have been dropped. In the statement, he also said the officer has been reprimanded for his failure to know the law.

At Sunday’s meeting, organized by Councilman Nix and attended by approximately 50 people, Mayor Johnson and Andalusia Police Chief Paul Hudson discussed the case and answered questions about the arrest and police training.

Mayor Johnson assured those in attendance that the arrest in question is the subject of an ongoing investigation. After reviewing the officer’s body camera footage with Councilman Nix, the city attorney, and leaders of the Andalusia Police Department, he said, he has seen no evidence of the alleged racism.

When asked in the meeting about implicit bias, Chief Hudson assured the group that implicit bias is a topic regularly included in APD required training.

The planned Law Enforcement Advisory Committee was the brainchild of those in attendance, and was quickly embraced by Mayor Johnson. Mayor Johnson appointed Councilman Nix to chair the committee, and said committee members will be charged with bringing concerns of the community to the attention of law enforcement officers, and will hold quarterly meetings.

Mayor Johnson stated he hopes that these actions will help prevent similar situations in the future.