U.S. Marshal Talks Crime, Collaboration and Change

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You probably remember westerns where with U.S. Marshals ride into town and take on criminals. Well in real life in North Central Alabama, it’s U.S. Marshal Marty Keely who leads the team capturing federal criminals and works through a regional task force to fight crime. As part of our series on crime in Birmingham Keely spoke with WBHM’s Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, about his office, the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force and law enforcement collaboration.

Scope of Crime Fighting and Criminal Apprehension

“We’re going after the most violent offenders. The majority of individuals we will apprehend will be state and local fugitives. The type of individuals that we would be interested in would be the type of people that commit the crime of murder for example, robbery, rape — serious crimes, sex crimes, offenses of that type. We do a great deal of work in the area of gangs, not national gangs necessarily. Recently we had a rash of car burglaries, and we had a death in Hoover that everybody knows about, when the gentleman was coming out of his home to go exercise and was killed. That was local gang related.”

Local Gangs Exist

“We see the presence of local groups, gangs that come together loosely formed. Some are more organized than others. We have skilled police officers that are educated, they are professional, they are trained and they have the best equipment. They are equipped to deal with the crime today whether it’s a group of individuals or one individual.”

Collaboration With Other Law Enforcement Agencies

“The partner agencies assign a deputy or an officer or two to the task force. We have Birmingham police officers, Jefferson County sheriff deputies, Shelby County deputies on the task force. They are deputized as Special U.S. Deputy Marshals. That would give our state and local partner federal arrest power.”

Greatest Challenge in Fighting Crime

“We have to find a way to divert the youth of this community away from behaviors that leads to crime. We see so much crime today involving young people who don’t have a role model. Youths are going to follow a positive role model or they are going to follow a negative role model.”

Changes Over the Years

“I’ve seen dramatic change in the technology that is out there today available to law enforcement. The offenders are more violent today than they were when I started. More people out there are involved crime. But Law enforcement is better today – better educated, better trained, better equipment in dealing with the issues that we face.”






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Elizabeth Sanfelippo is an energy consultant who lives in Birmingham’s upscale Highland Park neighborhood. She grew up outside of Birmingham, and lived in Vermont and New York before coming back to her beloved hometown. When she wants to know what’s happening in the area, she picks up her smartphone and presses a green icon with a white house on it, opening the Nextdoor app.