Metro Birmingham had a streak last fall – eight killings in six days. The rash of homicides stretched from Hueytown to Homewood to Tarrant. The area’s murder rate rose in 2017 for the third consecutive year. Government and law enforcement officials in Birmingham and Jefferson County say there are challenges to what some have dubbed a crisis.
Homicide rates are on the rise across the country. In Birmingham, the city finished 2015 with a dramatic 55 percent increase. In response, law enforcement is stepping up efforts to combat violent crime. One key element is to add more face-to-face engagement between police and the community through old fashioned walking beats.
There’s a perception that crime is on the rise in and around Birmingham. What’s really happening? Is fear changing our behavior and affecting relationships in our communities? How can Birmingham and surrounding communities work to reduce violent crime? On Thursday, March 10 Local law enforcement officials and community members met to discuss crime and brainstorm solutions for WBHM's “Issues and Ales: Crime in the Greater Birmingham Area.”
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.
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.
There was a spike in homicide last year and Birmingham is on pace to hit a new high this year. Studies show much of this violence isn’t random. According to data from the University of Cincinnati Policing Institute, less than one percent of a city’s population contribute to more than 73 percent of violent crime. Other cities have instituted programs to cut down on homicide, by targeting the groups and people most likely to be involved. Birmingham started its own initiative last year.
Birmingham finished 2015 with an increase in homicides. That’s a reversal from the last several years where those numbers dropped to levels not seen in a generation. With that rise and the headlines that come with it, crime is pushing back to the forefront of community conversation. This week, we’ll explore crime in the greater Birmingham area. WBHM’s Andrew Yeager kicks off our series.
Crime In Greater Birmingham
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