Tuscaloosa PD Announces Discipline, Government Approves AL Medicaid Changes

Feb 10, 2016

Video screen capture from Nov. 8 Tuscaloosa Police Department arrest

The Tuscaloosa Police Department has announced how officers will be disciplined after a violent arrest last fall that went viral.

Police Chief Steven Anderson says Officer James Kent is still on administrative leave with pay pending disciplinary action. Officer Justin Sams received a written reprimand along with remedial training to improve his communication skills.

Officers Phillip Champion and Gregory Pimm have returned to work. They didn’t receive any disciplinary action, but they were required to take remedial training in the use of force, decision making and de-escalation techniques.

The officers were involved in an incident last November when three people were pulled from an apartment near the University of Alabama’s campus after a noise complaint. Officers hit at least one person with a stun gun and repeatedly hit another with a baton. The violence was captured on video and garnered national attention.

Federal officials have approved Alabama's plan to switch its Medicaid program to managed care. APR’s Stan Ingold reports around two-thirds of the state’s Medicaid patients will receive care through this system.

Governor Robert Bentley announced the change during a press conference. The waiver approval comes after three years of planning and negotiation with federal officials over the proposed change.

Instead of the traditional fee-for-service health care delivery model, the state will contract with regional care organizations to provide care and case management services for patients. State officials hope the approach will provide better outcomes for patients by managing their care. They also hope it will help push down spiraling Medicaid costs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid also agreed to provide $328 million to help with the transition.

The forecast calls for more cold weather tonight and more homeless shelters are opening their doors.

Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Etowah County are among the communities working to make sure the homeless have a warm place overnight. Advocates for the homeless are also looking for long-term solutions.

Courtney Stinson is the Community Outreach Coordinator for One Roof. She says it is important to address the larger problem of homelessness in addition to opening warming stations in Birmingham.

“We’re really grateful that the City of Birmingham does that. There’s a bigger focus on what we can actually do as a community to end homelessness. Because people are experiencing homelessness every night of the year and this conversation is just going to keep coming up and coming up as long as that exists.”

The Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham will be open this week for the homeless and those whose homes do not have heat. People in Tuscaloosa can call the police department or fire department for directions to available shelters.

Much of north and north central Alabama is still dealing with snowfall after some areas saw over an inch of accumulation.

Authorities say areas near Fort Payne got around 1.5 inches of snow. DeKalb County's emergency manager told the National Weather Service that higher amounts fell on Lookout Mountain and roads were slick in some spots. Jackson County also saw over an inch of snow, causing dangerous travel conditions.

Schools altered schedules yesterday and roads quickly turned to slush as the snow moved into northern Alabama. Officials say travel problems could continue today, with temperatures expected to rise only into the mid-30s in north Alabama, followed by overnight lows in the low 20s.