BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -The Birmingham Police Department and Housing Authority struck a deal with the goal of protecting people who live in public housing.
After months of negotiations, the Birmingham Housing Authority and Birmingham Police have agreed to add more patrols to protect the authority’s 14 housing communities. The proposed contract is for $1.8 million for two years, totally $3.6 million. It will need city council approval.
"We want our communities to be safe. Our job, our goal, our mission is to provide safe housing, decent housing but safety is important to us as well,” Sherea Harris-Turner HABD’s Director of Communications said.
The plan calls for 16 officers including one sergeant and a lieutenant. HABD says it found extra money in its operating budget to help fund the new security measures. There's also language in the contract that allows for 24/7 policing in high crime communities.
"That will be again based on if there are sites that we feel like needs that 24-hour presence of police. Now that will not be the norm. We’ll leave that up to BPD. We’re not the experts in public safety so this contract that’s what we’re hiring BPD for,” Turner said.
Right now the Jefferson county Sheriff’s Office provides additional patrols in the housing communities. That will go away if city council agrees on the new contract because HABD can’t afford to pay both agencies.
"At some point we envision including police substations at designated communities where BPD feels like is necessary based on areas that have high volumes of crime. We want our residents to know that we are going beyond what’s expected of HABD to do things to make sure they are safe,” Turner said.
We know there are safety concerns. A little over a month ago, a four-year-old died after she was struck by a stray bullet in the gate city community. The housing authority says the goal of this new plan is to hopefully prevent something like this from happening in the future.
Ken Foreman is the new public safety director for HABD. He is from Detroit. Foreman has 27 years of law enforcement experience including time as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. HABD says he plans on meeting residents and other stakeholders next week.