BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -Birmingham City Councilor Steven Hoyt suggested crime is so bad in the city---it’s time to call in outside help. More specifically, the National Guard. Police Chief Patrick Smith disagrees.
“I don’t think we’re to the point where we need the National Guard on every corner or the Alabama National Guard. From time to time, we’re going to have a spike in crime. That’s unavoidable," says Smith.
The key, he says, is smart, calculated policing. One thing he believes will help—their new cadet program that allows men and women to enter the academy at the age of 19 instead of 21.
“And upon completion we’re going to teach them central core basic job skills of how to be a good employee.”
This move increases the pool of potential new officers, but also gives children in low-income families a faster shot at a good, stable job.
“When I took over the police department, as I mentioned, they were 141 officers short. Think about it. That’s a lot of officers not patrolling the streets of Birmingham."
The program will narrow that gap. They’re about to have 121 additional officers—three of those will be the first to go through the cadet program. Smith says while homicide numbers are up, crime overall is down by about two percent--and he wants time to prove the results of his new initiatives.
“We did no get here overnight. And we’re not going to turn it around overnight.”
Something else interesting: the department holds daily crime briefs and actually adjusts their resources accordingly to handle that crime.