MPD Chief: Officers were right in Herder arrest

Mobile Police have concluded their investigation on the arrest of public figure and active community member Tom Herder of midtown Mobile.

Monday, February 11, Mobile Police Chief James Barber said his officers were in the right when they arrested Herder on charges of disorderly conduct while Herder was picking up trash in his Midtown neighborhood. But, Herder has claimed that the arrest was wrongful, and that he had been frisked without reasonable cause by the officers.

Chief Barber said officers in that precinct were directed to look for burglary suspects after that particular neighborhood had endured a number of burglaries, and the officers wanted to search Herder after Herder said he was carrying a pocket knife.

Barber said when officers stopped Herder while he was picking up trash with his dogs, Herder became irate and was screaming profanity.

Barber said police detained Herder for some time while they ran his background, and after officers released Herder, Barber said Herder continued to scream at other residents in the area, prompting officers to arrest Herder for disorderly conduct

It is not against the law to curse at a police officer. But, Chief Barber said Herder was screaming profane words to the point other residents in the area could hear him, thus disturbing the peace of the residential area.

“The police are actually required to have thick skin,” explained Barber. “There’s a requirement that we have that we actually do take quite a bit of scorn and ridicule as we perform our duties. And so, when they refer to that, a disagreement or a scrutiny of a police officer, including cuss words or something like that does not amount to profanity or disorderly conduct. That’s not what this guy was arrested for, he wasn’t arrested for the fighting words doctrine. The fighting words is verbally threatening the officer or leading him to believe that his safety is in danger. So that’s not what he was arrested for. What he was arrested for was disturbing the peace of a residential neighborhood at 9:30 in the morning by yelling some very horrible profanity at police officers. To the extent that everybody in that neighborhood could hear it. So, that’s where the disorderly conduct comes in. It’s the disturbing of the peace. I don’t think anybody would want to be in a residential area, where you’ve got children, and have somebody behaving in any manner that Mr. Herder was behaving.”

Herder is the Watershed Coordinator for the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, and works closely with the City of Mobile.

Mobile Police have been investigating Herder’s arrest for a week, and have decided they will not drop Herder’s disorderly conduct charge.

Herder’s attorney, Josh Briskman, told FOX10 News Herder was in no way irate with officers on the day of his arrest, and maintains the arrest was out of line.

In an exclusive live interview Monday at 5 p.m., Briskman said that Herder should be proud of the way he acted when he was arrested Saturday, February 1.

Briskman said he hopes Mobile Police will reconsider their decision not to dismiss the case, as he said Herder did not act in any inappropriate manner, and does not deserve the disorderly conduct charge.

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