Times staff report
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin this week began interviewing three candidates for Birmingham police chief.
- Henry Irby III, currently a deputy chief with the Birmingham Police Department who has more than 32 years law enforcement experience.
- Malik Aziz is currently a division commander with the Dallas Police Department who has more than 28 years law enforcement experience.
- Patrick D. Smith is currently a police commander with the Los Angeles Police Department who has more than 27 years law enforcement experience.
This week’s interview process is part of a national search that began with collecting applications from Feb. 1 to March 9. More than 50 candidates – both locally and across the nation – applied for the position.
The finalists were selected from a pool of 11 applicants invited to take part in an assessment process on March 19. An assessment center was created for participants to handle a series of realistic leadership situations. Once those candidates completed the assessment process, a detailed review of their performance was conducted. The interviews were held between April 23 – 25.
Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper retired Feb. 16 after a decade on the job.
Woodfin told a group of black journalists on Saturday that crime reduction remains job one for his administration.
“We have a full breach of public safety in this community,” he said. “If we don’t attack crime, nothing else matters. There is an element in our city that doesn’t care about other people’s lives. If any organization has a better way of stopping them than arresting them, show me. I will sit with them as long as needed. I’m willing to talk with any group, but they’ve got to be on the solutions end.”
The mayor added, “If you have a better solution, please implement it and show me the results of whatever plan you run. If it works, I will pivot, support it and fund it. Until then, I will fight crime with every resource I have because people are dying.”
Earlier this month Woodfin and U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town announced the first meeting of the Birmingham Public Safety Task Force, a group that will develop strategies to lower homicides and violent crime in the city.
Along with Woodfin and Town, the task force consists of members 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.
“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 added. “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.”
The task force’s first main challenge was to develop a list of serious offenders who have landed on the radars of the participating agencies. Town emphasized that by sharing information and keeping the lines of communication open it will be much easier to apprehend offenders.