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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Birmingham Can Retake Control of City Streets from Drug Dealers and Gang Members by Implementing this Crime-Fighting Plan

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on July 5, 2024

IMAGE: Bullet casings line the streets of Birmingham, Alabama following one of this week's killings.

An Editorial Opinion


The daily shootouts and killings on the streets of Birmingham, Alabama are continuing at an alarming pace.  Six homicides have occured in the last seven days. Right now, Birmingham is as dangerous as any war zone.

 

Until Mayor Randal Woodfin can be replaced or the state of Alabama takes over the police function in Birmingham, the city can retake control of its streets and neighborhood from drug dealers and gang members by aggressively implementing the following crime-fighting measures:

 

1. Declare war on violent crimes within the city and mean it.  Put the city’s money on the front-line of the fight against violent crime.


2. Hire the amount of new police officers needed to fully staff the police department with 900 sworn officers. The city's police chief has publicly stated that 900 is the number of sworn officers he needs to provide adequate police protection within the city limits. Right now, the police department only has 430 sworn officers, including the 10 who guard Woodfin and his immediate family.

 

3. Pay a one-time signing bonuses of $10,000 to each new officer hired and a one-time retention bonus of $10,000 to each existing officer on the force. The officers must agree to remain on the force for a minimum of three years after accepting their signing and/or retention bonuses.

 

4. Pay a $2,000 per month housing stipend to any police officer who is willing to relocate to the top ten most violent crime areas in the city and live in those communities for a minimum period of three years.

 

5. Saturate high crime areas with sophisticated surveillance cameras that are actively monitored by a dedicated force of not less than 36 police department employees (i.e., 12 employees per 8-hour shift, 365 days per year).  The police department’s deployment and increased use of visual information technology systems will give it a strategic advantage over street criminals.


6. Ramp up and expand the use of random street checkpoints throughout the highest violent crime areas in the city.  This law enforcement tool is particularly effective between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., seven days per week.

 

7. Expand and enhance the use of the police department’s vast network of paid informants. Offer a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the prevention of a planned mass shooting, drive-by shooting, or gang-sanctioned “hit.”  Likewise, a reward of $10,000 should be offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person who committed an unlawful homicide within the city limits of Birmingham in cases where the suspect is not already known.  Reward money is the most effective tool in the crime fighting arsenal because there is no loyalty within the ranks of drug dealers and gang members. Any one of them will sellout a relative, fellow drug dealer, or gang member for money.


8. Coordinate with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office to vigorously oppose bail bonds in all unlawful homicide cases where a firearm, physical force, arson, or a cutting device was used to kill the homicide victim. State court judges who facilitate the easy release of violent criminals must be targeted for defeat in the next election cycle.

 

9. Use overwhelming force when arresting drug kingpins and gang leaders. These arrests should be recorded on video, when possible, and made available to news organizations in real-time.  This technique will embarrass and humiliate drug kingpins and gang leaders in front of their peers and underlings.

 

10. Demand that the hundreds of paid and unpaid police informants spread the word within their respective criminal networks and/or communities that the police department is implementing a new program that is specifically designed to crush drug kingpins and gang leaders and quash their violent street crimes.

 

The law enforcement tools needed to retake the streets of Birmingham already exist within the world of professional law enforcement. The city has the money to implement this crime-fighting plan but it is being diverted to (a) pay useless consultants and (b) fund pet projects that have been successfully pitched to City Hall by over-the-mountain panhandlers.

 

Nothing short of these practical and effective law enforcement measures will curb the surging violent crimes in Birmingham.

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Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Jul 07

Last Friday, Mayor Woodfin suggested that violent criminals must police themselves by walking away from conflicts that lead to deadly violence.  Several media pundits have suggested the implementation of new social programs that are aimed at reducing poverty. Some have advocated for more gun control laws. None of these people has pushed for a return to effective policing with a fully staffed 900-member police department.

 

Woodfin's solution is akin to Peter Pan sprinkling Guba Dust on a raging fire. It sounds good in theory, but it is useless in practice.

 

The truth is this: Mayor Randall Woodfin only knows how to keep himself safe with a security detail of up to 10 police officers.  Woodfin does not have…

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Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Jul 05

Birmingham residents pay enough local taxes to have deluxe police protection services. Where has this money gone? The demographic size of Birmingham's city limits requires 900 sworn officers to.adequately police the city, Yet, Birmingham only employs 430 police officers. What did City Hall do with the tens of millions of dollars that normally would have been used to pay the salaries of the 470 unfilled police jobs over the past 7 years? Who got that money, and what services did they provide?

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