Mayor’s office, police chief announce 30-day initiative to reduce crime

Ariel Worthy

The Birmingham Times

Police Chief A.C. Roper and Mayor William Bell announce a month-long operation in efforts to decrease violence in the city. (Ariel Worthy, The Birmingham Times)
Police Chief A.C. Roper and Mayor William Bell announce a month-long operation in efforts to decrease violence in the city. (Ariel Worthy, The Birmingham Times)

In efforts to increase public safety, Mayor William Bell and the Birmingham Police Department announced a new 30-day initiative, Operation Eagle.

For the next month, Birmingham Police Department will increase police visibility and partner with citizens of various communities.

“What makes this operation different is it includes an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Police chief A.C. Roper said. “So this means we’re drawing personnel from different units, not just patrol and detectives, but our Neighborhood Enforcement Team, Crime Reduction Team, our Community Policing Officers, our officers that work in public housing communities. We’re all working together to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods to increase police visibility.”

During the operation, there will be an increase in citizen engagement, checkpoints and additional enforcement actions. It’s a revolving and evolving operation that will continue to bend and shape, Roper said.

The operation will have regular patrol officers, and assistance from other units, adding an additional 50-100 officers, increasing visibility in the community.

“As we look at the previous week’s activities and trends, we’ll be able to adjust resources and the times (of increased officer visibility) will change. We’re going to prevent the crime, not just respond to the crime,” Roper said.

Each week, the operation will take place in different neighborhoods and communities, Roper said.

“Based on crime trends, crime complaints, criminal offenses, those are the numbers we’re looking at,” Roper said. “We look at what occurred last week, what are the trends, where were the hot spots, do we need to adjust resources, and if we do, what resources are we adjusting, which team will we send, when will we send them. It’s a very strategic, very complex operation … managing all of that and making sure we put the right people in the right place at the right time is all part of it.”

The mayor and his staff have also increased their visibility in the areas, he said.

“I, along with my staff, have been out talking with neighborhood presidents in various neighborhoods in communities to get a feel of what they see on a day-to-day basis in their communities, and we’re conveying that information back to the chief and his staff to take those proactive measures.” Bell said. “So we want to assure the public that we are moving forward with their proactive plan to get guns and drugs off the streets to make our streets safe.”

The police department spent the past week testing out the initiative and getting feedback from the community, Roper said.

“We’ve seen good success over the last few days as we continue to work the operation … some of our citizens have seen this increased presence, and they have seen our officers and are thanking them for being in the neighborhoods, and what’s also different about this is the locations will change.”

Bell said he has heard residents requesting officers to not overlook small situations that have the potential to turn into a larger issue.

“Houses go unattended and people come in and become squatters. We’re addressing that with our zoning officers and inspectors. There’s a number of things that the community wants to see us do that we’re doing,” Bell said.

In order to make officers more visible, Roper said they will adjust times and off days for officers.

“We’re using over time, adjusting hours, and we’re also adjusting off days,” he said. “We’re doing things in tandem to increase the visibility.”

The police department is still short staffed, Roper said, but doing these operations will help them.

“In two weeks we will start another police department class,” he said. “We’re constantly in the hiring mode, and the key for us is to make sure we’re as effective and as efficient as we can be.”