Law Enforcement Agencies Join Forces to Address Birmingham Violent Crime
BIRMINGHAM – A task force designed specifically to reduce homicides and other violent crime in Birmingham held its first meeting today at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.
The Birmingham Public Safety Task Force is an outgrowth of the U.S. Attorney and the mayor working together to develop a strategic plan for reducing violent crime in the Birmingham metro area, they said. Joining Town and Woodfin on the task force are representatives of the Birmingham Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Shelby County Drug Task Force, Housing Authority of Birmingham Division, Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, and the federal law enforcement agencies FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, and Homeland Security Investigations.
“The federal partners here today stand shoulder to shoulder with Mayor Woodfin, Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale, and the citizens of Birmingham to aggressively pursue the worst offenders in this city,” Town said. “Returning Birmingham to its rightful owners, peaceful law-abiding citizens who should not have to live in a fog of violent crime, is the number one priority of this task force. This assembly of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies will move swiftly to smother the violent criminal activity afoot in this city.”
“Violent crime is a public health issue in too many cities across America, including our community. This is a challenge to the quality of life for the people in all 99 neighborhoods,” Woodfin said. “This issue must be addressed in three areas: prevention, enforcement and reducing the likelihood of repeat offenders. Today, we are announcing a critical partnership that supports all three areas with a focus on greater deterrence through strengthened and targeted enforcement,” he said. “I welcome the involvement of our federal, state and local partners in an unprecedented level of coordination and cooperation. Together we resolve to reduce violent crime and protect the people who live, work and play in our great city.”
"We are committed to stopping this culture of violence in its tracks now and for the long term,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale. “We have never seen a stronger partnership come together. This initiative will have a long-term positive effect on eradicating violent criminals and behavior from our communities,” Hale said. “I appreciate all involved and we will be here as long as it takes. This is a great day for Birmingham and all of our surrounding communities."
Incorporating principles of the mayor's public safety initiative, Operation Step Up, and Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategy, along with the National Public Safety Partnership, the Birmingham task force will unite federal, state and local law enforcement to identify and work to apprehend the key offenders responsible for the majority of violent crime in hot spots across the Birmingham area.
One of the task force’s first orders of business was to develop a short list of serious offenders who have drawn the attention of various task force agencies. With task force members sharing information and resources, tracking the worst offenders should be made easier, Town said.
PSN is a nationwide Justice Department program committed to reducing gun and gang crime by networking existing local programs that target gun crime and supporting those efforts with training and funding.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced PSP last year as a training and technical assistance program designed to enhance the capacity of local jurisdictions to address violent crime in their communities. He selected Birmingham as one of the initial 12 locations to participate in the program. The PSP and PSN programs both reinforce the federal, state and local task force model as one of the most effective ways to reduce violent crime.