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What Birmingham Leaders Are Saying About the 2023 Drop in Homicide Rates

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By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson

The Birmingham Times

Birmingham officials are cautiously optimistic after the city’s homicide rate dropped in 2023, which they hope is a step in the right direction after five consecutive years of increases.

The city ended 2023 with 135 homicides, a 6.25 percent decrease from 2022 when it had 144 homicides, marking the deadliest year in recent Birmingham history.

“We will take this decrease in overall gun violence as a step in the right direction acknowledging that all of us still have a tremendous amount of work to do,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “One life lost is too many. Government and police can’t be in homes and personal relationships. We will continue to work hard every day to encourage our citizens to make better choices when there is conflict instead of using a gun.”

“We increased every year over the past four years up through last year so to finally be showing a decrease is a good thing,” Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond told AL.com.

Birmingham ended 2021 with 132 homicides; 2020 with 122 homicides; 2019 with 106 homicides; and 2018 with 107 homicides.

“It’s not the decrease I would want, but it’s a move in the right direction,” Thurmond said of 2023′s homicide total.

Birmingham City Councilwoman LaTonya A. Tate, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee said she is happy to see the decline but “the homicide rate in Birmingham remains far too high.”

“I will continue to advocate for increasing the city’s prevention and re-entry efforts in 2024,” she said. “The most critical effort of 2024 will be working with the Justice Governance Partnership to improve the use of data to increase collaboration across agencies, departments, and units of government in Birmingham.”

Darrell O’Quinn, City Council president, said it is unfortunate to even have to report the homicide statistics, “[but] it was encouraging to see that the number of homicides decreased slightly.”

Still there was another important statistic that he keyed in on as well, he said.

“The number of gunshot injuries decreased pretty dramatically,” he said. “I believe last year it was around 500 gun-related injuries and this year it came in around 300. That is an encouraging sign.”

And like Tate, O’Quinn added that more has to be done to prevent gun related crimes, especially considering many are occurring between individuals who know one another.

“Talking to folks about managing disagreements and resisting the temptation to take out their frustration using firearms, it’s something we’re very focused on making happen,” he said.

In Jefferson County as a whole, last year ended with 195 homicides, an increase of one from the previous year of 2022.