Category: Public Safety

Sheriff Requests More Money for World Games Security

Learning that his department has a much bigger task than anticipated with The World Games, Sheriff Mark Pettway today sought $1.2 million from the Jefferson County Commission.

“We’ve had some other departments to pull out, which increased our involvement within The World Games,” Pettway said. “We are here. We’re local. We want to make sure that when everybody comes here, that everybody is safe. Read more.

ICE Withdrawing Detainees From Etowah County Detention Center, Cites ‘Serious Deficiencies’

U.S. immigration officials announced Friday that they would stop using the Etowah County Detention Center, in Gadsden, to house detainees.

The decision was based on the jail having “serious deficiencies,” according to a press release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Etowah County Detention Center, which houses the county’s jail and the federal detention area, has come under a litany of complaints for decades. The complaints have included physical conditions at the jail, improper actions by personnel and inadequate health care.

Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton told the Gadsden Times that the news came as a shock to him. “It was just a bombshell,” Horton told the Times. He also said ICE just this week notified him it would be sending 135 more detainees to the jail.

The detention center, where the county has its jail as well as the federal detention area, has come under a litany of complaints for decades. The complaints have included physical conditions at the jail, improper actions by personnel and inadequate health care. Read more.

BirminghamWatch’s Virginia MacDonald explored complaints about the Etowah County Detention Center in this 2019 report:

Alabama Site for Detained Immigrants Has History of Abuse Charges, Efforts to Close It.

Birmingham Dismisses Tickets Issued Before 2011

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has announced pardons for more than 756,000 outstanding traffic and parking violations that were issued before Jan. 1, 2011. Woodfin characterized the initiative, called Stop and Go — an acronym for Suspend Traffic Obligations Permanently & Grant Opportunities — as a “second chance” for residents living under the threat of fines or arrest. Read more.

Birmingham Mayor Promises Raise for Police in Next Budget

Mayor Randall Woodfin has promised Birmingham police officers a raise in the city’s next fiscal year.

“Officers are feeling a considerable amount of pressure over not being appreciated,” Woodfin said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, which was attended by several “concerned” off-duty police officers.

Woodfin mentioned stressors on the police department, including smaller recruitment classes and growing retirement rates, as well as the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s not just our police,” he said. “Our fire department, public works and general service employees all feel the pinch. (But) what’s unique about these men and women that you see (here) is that they were not afforded the opportunity to take off over the last two years. They were not afforded some other things other employees received because they’re on the front line of public safety. As an administration, I know this council (agrees). We as an administration agree, they deserve a raise. They’re going to get a raise.” Read more.

Birmingham Council Shuts Down Mahogany Bar Despite Some Community Support

The Mahogany Social Bar and Lounge will remain permanently closed after a vote by the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday.

Owner Montego Temple had moved the club to its 1709 Third St. W location after its previous location across the street burned down. Though Temple told councilors he believed he had secured a transfer of his liquor license and dance permit to the new location, he was arrested in December for operating without a proper license.

But complaints from the Birmingham Police Department that the club was a threat to public safety ultimately stymied his efforts to legally reopen Mahogany. Police pointed to 10 calls for service to the club in the past six months — ranging from gunshots to car break-ins — as well as an inspection by Detective Victor Langford that showed multiple safety issues and culminated with a fistfight in the club. Read more.