Crime Reduction Plan for Birmingham Coming Next Month

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Birmingham Police Car
Source: Miranda Fulmore, WBHM
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By Sam Prickett

Several months after taking the job, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith is expected to deliver a comprehensive plan for crime reduction to the City Council next month.

The announcement of the plan was made at Tuesday’s council meeting by Cedric D. Sparks, Mayor Randall Woodfin’s chief of staff, in response to concerns expressed by the council about increasing rates of violent crime in the city.

“I’m really anxious to know, when are we going to get with the police chief as a body to figure out how we are going to work together to eliminate crime in our city?” asked District 1 Councilor Lashunda Scales.

The answer, Sparks replied, would be November. “The mayor wanted to provide the chief an opportunity to get here, get his arms around several of the issues that are affecting our city and also have a comprehensive plan to report out,” he said. “That plan will (be given) to the council as a body in the month of November.”

Smith was hired to the job after a nationwide search in June, midway through what is on track to become the city’s deadliest year in decades. As of Oct. 16, Birmingham had logged 92 homicides in 2018, slightly ahead of the 87 homicides that had been reported at this point last year. By the end of 2017, Birmingham had a reported 117 homicides, the highest rate since 1995.

Since his hiring, Smith has made several changes to the department, including lowering the minimum age for new hires — a move intended to combat a significant personnel shortage in the department — and changing the department’s shift schedule to a “4/10” model, which he has said will lead to “overlapping responses (and) sufficient units in the field.”

Last month, the council approved a program to install nearly 100 surveillance cameras at undisclosed points throughout the city — intended to combat violent crime.

No specific date has been given for Smith’s presentation to the council; Sparks said he would individually contact councilors to find a suitable date.

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