Tag: Public Safety

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.

Birmingham Officials Reject Defunding, Plan Police Reforms with Civilian Oversight, Social Workers and Attacking Crime from a Public Health Perspective

After several months of study and citizen input, the City of Birmingham announced Thursday that police reforms are underway — some of which will go to effect shortly, others that will take years — with the end goal of making law enforcement more transparent and responsive to the needs of the citizens.

Highlighting a more than 100-page final report called “Reform and Reimagine Birmingham Public Safety,” city officials outlined steps to improve relations between the police and the public, improve training for police, make rules and regulations public, and ultimately increase accountability.

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

But Mayor Randall Woodfin said the city will need the assistance of healthcare providers and citizens to make the reforms work over the long term. And he rejected calls to defund the police, saying that the most common request he hears from citizens is to beef up the department and put more officers on the job. 
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.

First Police Review Finds BPD is “Doing Pretty Good,” Woodfin Says, Ends With Explicit Ban on Chokeholds

Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Tuesday morning that his office’s 30-day internal review of the Birmingham Police Department had been completed. The result? “While we found that we are doing pretty good, there is still room for improvement,” he said.

The internal review focused primarily on criteria promoted by #8CANTWAIT, a national campaign calling for immediate policy changes — such as banning chokeholds and strangleholds and requiring officers to de-escalate situations wherever possible — to police departments throughout the country. The results, Woodfin said, showed that “in spirit, Birmingham is in alignment with the standards of #8CANTWAIT.” Read more.

Birmingham Set to Pay Fine for Covering Confederate Monument

Earlier this month, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin yielded to protestors’ demands to remove the controversial Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument from Linn Park.

The statue was driven to an undisclosed location — for its protection, Woodfin said — and the city promptly was sued by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall for violating the state’s Memorial Preservation Act; Marshall has said he will be seeking a $25,000 penalty.

But Tuesday, the City Council will vote on paying a different $25,000 fine associated with the Confederate statue — this one resulting from the actions of former Mayor William Bell, who ordered the statue covered by a black plywood barrier in August 2017. Read more.

Hundreds Gather in Birmingham to Celebrate Juneteenth

Hundreds of people gathered at Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park on Friday to commemorate Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery.

Onoyemi Williams is with the group Alabama Rally Against Injustice. She said after weeks of protests and demonstrations, today is a celebration of Black lives.

“Because when you’re at war, you must take the time for self care and celebration,” she said. “We’re celebrating where we’re at so we can prepare for where we have to go.” Read more.

Center Point Woman Leads White Birminghamians for Black Lives

In the wake of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and others, countless white people across the county have experienced a social awakening.

Judy Hand-Truitt isn’t among them.

The 72-year-old Center Point resident has been socially awake from her youth and four years ago established White Birminghamians For Black Lives to protest racial injustice.

The racially mixed group marched regularly at Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park until the pandemic made their marches less frequent. Its most recent march was Friday, May 29; its next march will be Friday, June 26. Read more.

Black Lives Matter Message Rolls Over Downtown Birmingham Street

Shawn Fitzwater admits he had little hope of his suggestion of a “Black Lives Matter” street mural coming to fruition.
“Really,” the professional painter said today, “not at all.”

But the suggestion from Fitzwater and another individual will likely be a reality by the end of today. Work began Wednesday on the street mural, on First Avenue South between 16th and 17th Streets, where “Black Lives” has been painted in bright yellow paint.

Today, the final word of the phrase is going into place as a second coat is applied to the first two words. The aim is to complete the project in time for Juneteenth festivities in Birmingham. Read more.