BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Starting off with a bit of fanfare, the forum held Thursday night was conducted much like a talk show.
Mayor Randall Woodfin and moderator Ronda Robinson talked about six main goals of the city. One of those goals--to have safe, secure, and sustainable communities.
Police Chief Patrick Smith outlined a few of their initiatives to make that happen. First—increasing their police academies to four a year next year.
“So that we’re keeping up with attrition, and we’re increasing the number of police officers on the street. Our goal is to reach 1,000 officers for the city of Birmingham,” says Chief Smith.
That initiative to be reached by the end of 2020 so they’re ready for the World Games. A lateral program and a rehire program are in place to help supplement, which has helped reduce the attrition rate by 70 percent. Chief Smith also plans to add more lighting.
“We are adding 30,000 new LED lights throughout the city of Birmingham to make sure that we can eliminate many of the dark areas and we’re able to curtail crime."
“It’s doable and it’s in the right direction and I think it’s very much needed for the community to continue to grow," says citizen Mark Brown.
They’re also in the process of creating a real-time crime center, bringing all technology into one central hub: body cameras, shot spotter, license plate reader technology, and others.
“This is getting real-time information out to our officers, so they know exactly what they’re looking for,” says Smith.
The forum garnered approval from citizens.
“I think it was great, I mean, safety first. And I think that was one of the things the citizens of Birmingham were asking for. I think every mayor has tried to be transparent but I do appreciate the transparency plus the simplicity of the message,” says Michael Dale.
The entire strategic plan has 92 initiatives, and this was meant to be an overview, touching on six main goals.
Also mentioned was the availability of healthy food for citizens, assistance for small business owners, and money for infrastructure like sidewalk improvements.