“Project Unity” could make big changes to policing in Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa mayor working on community policing project

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - From de-escalation training to citations for marijuana possession, Tuscaloosa’s Mayor is looking to make some big changes to policing in the city. We’re taking a closer look into what he’s proposing.

“We want to eliminate choke holds, expect in the instances of the necessity of deadly force needed by the officer,” Mayor Walt Maddox said.

That’s just one of the things Mayor Walt Maddox talked about while unveiling the new community policing plan called “Project Unity”.

From a state level, Maddox is asking the Legislature to allow the city to issue citations for things like possession of misdemeanor amount of marijuana.

“This fits along again with our goal of putting our police in less confrontational situations plus giving us space in our jail system for those who need to be there the most,” Maddox said.

Maddox would also like to create a deputy chief for community policing position. That person will act as a liaison between TPD and residents. It’s something new police Chief Brent Blankley says is a vital part of the “Project Unity” plan.

“How to get us more in the community? How to solve problems in the community? Somebody to go to that they can trust. That’s essential to all of this,” Blankley said.

Blankley is also working on getting a simulator to help officers with things like de-escalation training. Blankley says the training that could also be made available to the public.

Maddox is also asking the Legislature to redirect some funding under the local court system’s diversion program to help expand TPD’s mental health unit and invest more in early intervention programs.

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