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Birmingham police chief resigns; mayor appoints acting chief

New Acting Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 12:09 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2022 at 6:44 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The following information is from the Birmingham Mayor’s Office:

Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin has appointed Captain Scott Thurmond as Acting Birmingham Chief of Police. He replaces former Chief Patrick Smith who has resigned to focus on personal matters.

“I am grateful for the service of former Chief Smith,” Mayor Woodfin said. Under his leadership, former Chief Smith led the launch of the Real Time Crime Center; increased the number of police academies annually to assist in recruiting; shifted to a four-day, 10-hour work week for officers; and established crime control meetings to analyze and assess major crime activities per precinct.

Thurmond is a 23-year veteran with the Birmingham Police Department, having served and led in several precincts as well as in executive leadership with honor and a track record for fighting crime. Under his leadership in 2020, the West Precinct launched a special task force that successfully removed five to 10 guns off the streets each week and focused on high engagement and follow up on cases which led to greater solvability. As a result, residents saw a 25 percent reduction in crime in the West Precinct.

Scott Thurmond, Acting Birmingham Chief of Police.
Scott Thurmond, Acting Birmingham Chief of Police.(Source: Birmingham Police Department)

“I have every confidence in the leadership of Acting Chief Thurmond,” said Mayor Woodfin. “He has a history of innovation, strength and humility. Acting Chief Thurmond will be a bridgebuilder for our residents and police force. He is the right man to help keep our community safe.”

“I am honored,” said the 47-year-old Thurmond. “I know there will be challenges, but I am excited and ready to serve. As a department, we are committed to providing the high level of services our community members expect and deserve.”

Mayor Woodfin and Acting Chief Thurmond ventured out together for afternoon roll calls on Friday afternoon. The two briefly spoke to the press, and Chief Thurmond stressed that staffing levels and gun violence are two of the biggest issues facing the department.

“One of the first things we will do is work with our state, local and federal partners to tackle gun violence. We recently started some new things with ATF here locally and we will continue those relationships to tackle gun violence. It is not just a BPD, or city of Birmingham issue, it is a nation wide problem. It is going to take more than the Birmingham Police Department to tackle that problem,” said Acting Chief Thurmond.

Acting Chief Thurmond began his career in the patrol division at the North Precinct where he served the Titusville and Smithfield communities from 1999-2005 as patrolman and Field Training Officer. Two years later, in 2007, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and assigned to the West Precinct Morning Shift in the patrol division.

In 2008, Thurmond was transferred to the Homicide Unit in the Investigative Bureau and worked there as a sergeant until 2013 when he was then promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. In 2015, Acting Chief Thurmond returned to the Homicide Unit as the commander. In 2018, he became the Interim Commander of the newly formed Robbery/Homicide Division which consists of seven individual units: Homicide Unit, Felony Assault Unit, Robbery Unit, Crime Reduction Team (CRT), Project ICE, Intelligence Unit, and the Sex Offender Unit. In 2019, Thurmond was promoted to the rank of Captain and served as the West Precinct Commander in the Patrol Bureau. Most recently, he served as the Executive Assistant to the Deputy Chief of the Investigative Bureau.

Thurmond, a University of Montevallo graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in political science, said it has always been his dream to a police officer. Now, since serving in leadership, he has made it his mission to serve his fellow officers and the community with humility.

You can read Chief Smith’s resignation below.

Birmingham City Council President Wardine Alexander released the following statement:

“Mayor Woodfin has informed me and my colleagues on the council of Chief Smith’s resignation. I wish Former Chief Smith much success, and appreciate the service he rendered to the citizens of Birmingham and the BPD.

I am encouraged by the appointment of Acting Chief Scott Thurmond. He was very involved in community activities and led crime reduction efforts when he served as West Precinct Captain.”

Leadership with Birmingham’s Fraternal Order of Police told WBRC that they were going to hold a full-membership no-confidence vote on Chief Smith next month.

WBRC’s Jonathan Hardison interviewed Chief Smith Thursday afternoon in his office for a story slated to air next week about the department’s struggle to recruit more officers. He gave ZERO indication he didn’t plan to be there a day later.

You can watch that interview below:

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