Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Council Looks to Reduce Crime With Statistical Analysis

Source: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay


The Birmingham City Council has approved a partnership with the nonprofit Aspen Institute to gather and analyze a wide variety of data about the city’s 99 neighborhoods.

The project, named the Birmingham/Aspen Justice and Governance Partnership, is intended to reduce crime by gathering and analyzing hyperlocal statistics — for example, the number of traffic stops or emergency room admissions in a given neighborhood. This information would be made publicly available and could be used by lawmakers to inform policy.

The partnership was spearheaded by City Councilor LaTonya Tate, who will pay the Aspen Institute up to $275,000 out of District 9’s allocated American Rescue Plan Act funds. Douglas Wood, director of the Aspen Institute’s Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, said he’d also had “deep discussions” with County Commissioner Sheila Tyson “to also invest in this work.”

Aspen is a nonprofit dedicated “to realizing a free, just and equitable society.”

“This will allow us to be able to do acute analysis all the way down to the neighborhood level across different data sets, including criminal justice, critical health care, school discipline, income, housing, acute family interventions, race and ethnicity,” Wood said. “Even things like traffic stops, summons, arrests, probation supervision … we need to know how much that costs in order for us to be able to think about how we might reinvest in those neighborhoods in a very targeted way to mitigate against violence and some of those other criminogenic risk factors.”

The planning stage of the project will be handled by a newly created host organization, with assistance from Aspen, but eventually will be handed over to a “local justice intermediary, right here in the city of Birmingham,” Wood said. That intermediary will be chosen by “a planning and leadership council with representatives from the city and county.”

Council President Pro Tempore Crystal Smitherman said she believed the project would be “a lot of help” to Birmingham. “This will take a while before we see the benefits from this, but I think this is the right direction to helping our city,” she said.