Coronavirus Live Updates from NPR

Jeffco Health Officials: Violence is a Public Health Issue

Mary Scott Hodgin, WBHM

Dr. Mark Wilson discusses violence as a public health issue during the 2019 State of Health in Jefferson County address.

Violence is the newest strategic focus for the Jefferson County Department of Health. During Tuesday’s annual State of Health in Jefferson County address, Dr. Mark Wilson said the department added the issue in response to increasing rates of homicide.

“It (violence) isn’t something that our health department has devoted resources to in the past,” Wilson said, “but it is clearly a public health problem.”

Wilson said the health department is working with city officials in Birmingham on a campaign to address gun violence. He said last year’s homicide rate in Jefferson County was nearly the highest it has been in three decades.

During Tuesday’s speech, Wilson also discussed county initiatives to reduce tobacco use, expand services for chronic and infectious disease, and improve birth outcomes. He said the health department continues to focus on mental health and substance abuse.

“We are trying to get away from the idea that mental health should be viewed as different from physical health,” Wilson said.

In 2018, there was a decline in the annual number of deaths due to opioid overdose in Jefferson County. Wilson said he hopes that trend will continue, but it is too early to tell. He also said there has been a significant increase in the use of methamphetamine in recent years.

More Crime Coverage

Remembering Slain Alabama Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams

Funeral services were held today for "Big John" Williams. He was a popular sheriff allegedly killed by the son of a deputy from a neighboring county. His death has resonated nationwide.

Crime Down in Birmingham So Far in 2019

Birmingham is getting safer according to Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. He says the latest statistics show many crimes are down compared to a year ago.

Birmingham Sees Conflict Resolution as Key to Breaking Cycle of Violence

Violent crime remains high in Birmingham, particularly among young black men. Now, the city is partnering with several nonprofits to teach skills they hope will prevent conflicts from escalating.

Crime Wave Highlights Barriers Between Police and Hispanic Community

Recently there’s been a surge in crimes targeting the Hispanic community in and around Birmingham. Police want victims to feel comfortable reporting the incidents, but that means overcoming some roadblocks.

Birmingham Police Arrest Man Suspected of Killing Police Sergeant

The man suspected of killing Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter last month was arrested Thursday as he was released from rehab.

Birmingham Police Officer Killed, Another Wounded in Downtown Shooting

A Birmingham police officer was fatally shot downtown Sunday morning and another critically wounded. The slain officer has been identified as Sgt. Wytasha Carter, 44, of Birmingham.

More Crime Coverage