Category: Public Safety

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.

Mahogany Club Given Stay of Execution, New Birmingham Council Hearing Set

Once again, the Birmingham City Council is considering the closure of a nightclub due to several instances of gun violence and other crimes.

This time, the club is Mahogany Social Bar and Lounge, at 1709 Third St. W in the city’s Rising-West Princeton neighborhood.

Temple’s attempt to obtain a new liquor license and dance permit for Mahogany was met with open skepticism by many city councilors based on claims by police that the nightclub is a threat to public safety. But one councilor said neighborhood officers had written a letter supporting the club and its owner, who they said had responded to previous complaints. Read more.

Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith Resigns, Citing Personal Matters

Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith resigned Friday, saying he wanted to focus on personal matters.

Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin appointed Capt. Scott Thurmond, a 23-year veteran on the force, to replace Smith on an acting basis, according to a statement issued by the mayor’s office.

In a letter to Woodfin on Friday, Smith resigned effective Feb. 25, but he asked to be put on administrative leave with pay until then to allow him to conclude some personal business and to allow for a smooth transition to new leadership. Read more.

Birmingham Council OK’s Agreement With ICE, Disturbing Advocacy Groups

The Birmingham City Council has approved an agreement between the city’s police department and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement that would deputize several BPD officers as customs officers for ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations jurisdiction.

The agreement was approved unanimously despite tense opposition from several advocacy groups worried that it could lead to more deportations in the city and give ICE too much power.

The agreement — a continuation of a previous 3-year deal — went before the council Nov. 2 but was delayed due to councilors’ concerns that it would require the police officers involved to participate in the deportation and removal of undocumented Birmingham residents. Read more.

Birmingham Applies for Grants to Beef Up Surveillance, Readies to Open Real-Time Crime Center

The city of Birmingham will apply for state and federal grants to purchase new license plate readers and high-definition surveillance cameras, the City Council decided Tuesday.

It also increased its contract for computer-aided dispatch maintenance services. The city plans to launch its “real-time crime center” later this month to combat the city’s rising rate of violent crime. Read more.

Alabama Becomes First in Nation to Certify All ALEA Officers in Sensory Inclusive Practices

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is the first state police department in the country to have all of its officers certified in sensory-inclusive practices, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Tuesday. “Too often we have citizens with sensory issues or folks who have PTSD, autism, dementia and a whole host of special needs that, frankly, our heroes in blue haven’t been trained to deal with up to this point,” Ivey said. Read more.