Category: Public Safety

Woodfin Won’t Resign in Controversy Over Police Shooting

Mayor Randall Woodfin said he will not resign despite Black Lives Matter Birmingham’s calls for him to do so following last month’s police killing of Desmon Montez Ray Jr.

Ray, 28, was killed by police on Easter Sunday as they responded to a domestic dispute call in north Birmingham. After a chase, officers say Ray fired a gun at police as he exited his vehicle; they returned fire, killing him.

After criticism from Ray’s family and local activists, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith released three videos — from officers’ body cameras and a neighbor’s security camera — showing the shooting.

On Monday, Black Lives Matter Birmingham called the release of the videos “unacceptable.” Read more.

Local, Federal Officials Launch Partnership to Reduce Gun Violence in Birmingham

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin launched a collaborative effort with federal and local law enforcement agencies to put an end to the city’s growing gun violence problem. The partnership, announced Friday, imposes stiff penalties for people who have unauthorized guns. Officials called on the community to help make the city safer by providing information on people who may be involved in criminal activity. Read more.

Erasing the Stain: 15,000 Pardoned of Marijuana Possession Convictions

Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday announced the pardons of more than 15,000 Birmingham residents convicted of marijuana possession, declaring that “one small mistake should not define an entire lifetime.”

The pardons — which were announced April 20, an unofficial holiday celebrating cannabis — covers residents with closed marijuana possession cases in the Birmingham Municipal Court between 1990 and 2020.

The pardons are part of Woodfin’s Pardons for Progress program, launched in November 2019, which was meant to remove employment barriers for people who had been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession. Read more.

Alabama’s Senators Among Republicans Who Opposed $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Bill That Won Senate Approval

WASHINGTON — The Senate on a highly partisan vote Saturday approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The vote on (HR 1319) was 50 for and 49 against. Both of Alabama’s senators joined every Republican present to vote against the bill, which now goes to the House of Representatives.

However, the Senate blocked a Democratic move to increase the minimum wage that had been in the bill.

On the House side, representatives in the week that ended March 5 passed a multi-faceted bill aimed at expanding voting in the U.S. and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, both mostly along party lines. Read more.

Law Enforcement Agencies Ask for Increased State Funding; General Fund Budget Looks OK

MONTGOMERY — The outlook for the state’s current General Fund budget is good, according to state lawmakers meeting this week for budget hearings.

Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, who chairs the General Fund budget committee in the House of Representatives, said he did not expect any large COVID-19-caused cuts in the current budget as lawmakers begin to craft next year’s budget in the upcoming legislative session.

Lawmakers on Wednesday heard from law enforcement agency heads who were asking for budget increases to pay for more personnel and mitigating issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

Birmingham Won’t Defund Police, but Public Safety Plan Includes Training, Social Workers and Civilian Oversight of Complaints

The city of Birmingham said “no” to defunding the police but “yes” to social workers partnering with police, “yes” to improving police training and giving citizens a role in overseeing complaints, and “yes” to better services with which officers and members of the public can interact.

Those are some of the conclusions in the 100-plus-page report Reform and Reimagine Birmingham Public Safety, issued Thursday after a months-long look at how to improve interactions between the city police force and the rest of the community.

Mayor Randall Woodfin and City Council Public Safety Chairman Hunter Williams rolled out the report during a press conference in which they promised more transparency and accountability, enhanced efforts to connect with businesses and the public, and an ongoing commitment to change for stronger relations with constituents. Some of the reforms will go into effect almost immediately. Others may take a year or more, Woodfin said.

The report came from the city’s Public Safety Task Force, which included a former U.S. attorney, a retired detective, an anti-police brutality advocate, a lawyer and the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Birmingham.

Woodfin said the city also will need the assistance of health care providers and citizens to make the reforms work over the long term. Read more.

Woodfin Schedules Oct. 1 Hearing on Birmingham Police Reforms

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has set an Oct. 1 hearing to discuss proposed police reforms.

The event is the culmination of a 90-day review by the public safety task force, a seven-member group appointed earlier this year to assess Birmingham Police Department policies. The task force also is requesting public input, inviting interested individuals to submit written or video proposals for new public safety policies.
Read more.

Gov. Kay Ivey Surveys Aftermath of Hurricane Sally

WBHM

Gov. Kay Ivey visited parts of Alabama’s coast Friday to survey damage from Hurricane Sally, which struck the coast on Wednesday as a Category 2 storm.

“What I’ve seen this morning in the fly over – it’s really, really bad,” Ivey said. “I think that I only saw two piers that were still standing. The rest are just sticks in the water.” Read more.