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Fraternal Order of Police board issues unanimous no confidence vote against B’ham Police Chief Patrick Smith

Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith. (Source: WBRC video)
Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith. (Source: WBRC video)
Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 11:28 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Executive Board of the Birmingham Fraternal Order of Police voted in favor of a no confidence vote against Police Chief Patrick Smith Thursday night according to the lodge’s attorney.

FOP Lodge #1 Attorney Liz Young issued the following statement:

“The FOP Executive Board and the Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of a vote of no confidence for Chief Smith and Assistant Chief Davenport. Board members and I have attempted to resolve these issues with both the Chief and the Mayor for many months; however, no efforts have been made by either party to address our concerns.

Innocent people and children are being shot and killed by gunfire while sitting in their homes. Families are being torn apart by senseless violence and homicides. Police officers are being shot and injured at an unprecedented rate. When is enough, enough? When do we say, it’s time to find someone who can get the job done? The FOP answered that question tonight. Now is the time.

The Birmingham Police Department has hundreds of officers who have dedicated their lives to making this a safer community; however, they cannot do it alone. The men and women of this department deserve solid leadership that will give them the resources, ability and support to be successful. That is not what they have received from Chief Smith, and it is simply unacceptable.”

Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith released the following statement:

The recent vote of no confidence made by the FOP is strongly rejected and serves only as the opinions of a small group of 12 who made this decision without consulting with the majority of FOP members and Birmingham Police Officers. After speaking to several of our officers, I found several BPD Officers of the department were caught by surprise with this vote and had no knowledge of this decision made by these 12 members. Some voters consisted of retirees, some who are no longer employed by the Birmingham Police Department and some who simply have a bone to pick with alternate agendas.

In reference to harassment or disparagement of officers, those claims are not factual and has not occurred. The FOP was also presented with a petition from other members of the department for a vote of confidence in favor of the direction of the department, however the petition was disregarded.

During my tenure, overall crime is down in terms of numbers. Our end of the year report that can be found here reflects every category of crime was down in 2020 except in the area of homicide. Some areas were down as low as a 40% decrease.

As we look at recent trends across the country during the COVID pandemic, it has been a rise in homicides and violent crime nationwide. Birmingham has experienced these challenges along with most major cities across the country. However, our consistent fortitude to improve drove us to invest in our department with additional training, technology, and equipment that will support our efforts to further decrease crime and combat the violent crime challenges we face.

We’ve also witnessed a shift in the culture of law enforcement after the death of George Floyd that changed how we police the city. It’s imperative that we adjust to societal changes and sometimes that means making uncomfortable changes. When you introduce police reform to a police department, it’s never an easy conversation. The FOP will never be on board. For some those adjustments are just difficult. Chief Davenport and I believe in accountability and high standards. Some people have a hard time adjusting to this level of accountability and new requirements. When I took the lead as Chief of Police, several facets were exposed that were not conducive to the growth of the department and overall goodwill for the community. Therefore, some changes were made and a new level of accountability was set forth.

For example, the last disciplinary hearing a number of officers were terminated for major violations. Some of these violations involved criminal activity. I believe in being on the side of right and upholding the oath I swore. All decisions were made in fairness with the overall consideration of the interest of the community. We are expected to be examples. Unfortunately, the FOP sometimes ends up on the wrong side of history as they defend some of these officers’ behavior.

As Chief of Police I will continue to lead this department to ensure we are fighting crime efficiently and strive to assure Birmingham is provided with the highest quality of police services. Your safety is my top priority.”

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