From Staff Reports
Crime continues to take a beating in the City of Bessemer.
Major crimes in the city dropped another 8 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. It marked the third straight year Bessemer Police have recorded a decrease in major crimes in the city.
There has been a 25 percent reduction in major crimes in Bessemer since 2011.
“This is a direct result of the department adding additional personnel and the re-launch of the Special Operations/BASE Unit,” Mayor Kenneth Gulley said.
“Over the past three years we have hired, trained and put on the streets 33 new police officers and 15 within the last year.”
According to Bessemer Police records, since 2010:
– Burglaries are down 35 percent.
– Homicides have dropped 50 percent.
– Robberies are down 5 percent.
– Vehicle thefts are down 30 percent.
– Felony Assaults are down 17 percent.
– Unlawful breaking and entering of vehicles has dropped by 1 percent.
– Rapes are down by 54 percent.
The police department seized 111 illegal firearms in 2013. In two years, the department has seized 254 illegal firearms.
Gulley said there is still much work to be done, but he criticized reports which rank the city as one of the deadliest in the nation. Gulley said it is wrong to compare Bessemer to larger cities.
“I think this is wrong and unfair,” he said.
The FBI cautions against ranking cities based on crime data because: “they lead to a simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents.”
The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the American Society of Criminology and various criminologists have chimed in as well by condemning the use of stats to rank cities.
The executive board of the American Society of Criminology has gone so far as to call the rankings an “irresponsible misuse of data.”
Bessemer police have also said such rankings are fundamentally flawed.
Gulley says a goal this year will be to fully man the Bessemer Police Department. It will mark the first time in 16 years the department has been fully manned.
“Our goal this year is to hire an additional 25 new police officers which will bring our Bessemer Police Department to full staff,” he said.
The department will also purchase 20 new vehicles and continue to update its technological weapons to combat crime.
“We believe a vigorous police presence on our streets is the major deterrent to violent and major crimes,” Gulley said. “We want residents of Bessemer to feel safe in the community and in their homes. We also want visitors that come to Bessemer to feel safe as they conduct business in our city.
“We would like to commend our police department on its efforts to make our city safe,” he added. “We continue to look for more accomplishments from this department as we seek to make Bessemer an “uncomfortable place for criminals.’”