After more than six months of searching, Birmingham has a new police chief.
Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Monday that Patrick D. Smith has been appointed as the city’s new law enforcement head, succeeding A.C. Roper, who announced his retirement in November.
Smith has served with the Los Angeles Police Department since 1990; he’s been a commander of the department’s police sciences and training bureau since 2015. He’ll start in his role as chief June 18.
During the press conference announcing Smith’s appointment, Woodfin said he had taken his time with the search for Roper’s replacement “because we wanted to get it right.” In an assessment of the top candidates for the position, he said, Smith scored the highest marks.
“Chief Smith is dedicated to bridge-building,” he said. “He understands that a department is only as strong as the community it serves. As he works to build a better department, he will also be working to sustain public trust and bring real change to our communities.”
Smith said that his time interviewing for the position “was not an easy process,” but that he had spent time engaging with the city’s communities and neighborhoods to assess what they looked for in a police chief.
“Let me assure you that the mayor and his staff have hired a very competent law enforcement professional,” he added.
Smith’s hiring brings an end to months of instability in the police department’s leadership. After Roper’s retirement — which he announced less than 24 hours after Woodfin’s inauguration — retired officer Orlando Wilson took over as interim chief. Wilson retired as interim chief in April amid allegations of sexually abusing a minor, though the official reason given for his retirement was so that he could undergo a medical procedure. Wilson’s attorney has called the abuse allegations false, and the Trussville Police Department announced Monday that it would not press charges against Wilson.
Wilson was followed in the role by Deputy Chief Henry Irby, who, along with Dallas Police Department Deputy Chief Malik Aziz, was one of three finalists for the permanent position.
Woodfin also announced the appointment of state Rep. Allen Treadaway, R-Morris, as the department’s assistant chief. Treadaway has been with the Birmingham Police Department since 1989, and he has served as captain of the city’s east precinct since 2014. Treadaway also will take on the role of interim chief until Smith officially starts the job.
“[Treadaway] knows our strengths, he knows our community, he knows the internal workings of our police department,” Woodfin said. “But he also knows where we need to improve, and that’s what I’m most excited about.”
Treadaway said he planned to keep his seat in the state Legislature, saying it “enhances” his law enforcement career. He’s currently seeking re-election to the seat. He’s unopposed in Tuesday’s Republican primary and will face Democrat Veronica Johnson in the Nov. 6 general election.