‘Here for as long as it takes,’ sheriff says
BIRMINGHAM – The U.S. Attorney’s Office today launched the Birmingham Safe Neighborhoods Task Force to offer prevention and community outreach programs within the city.
This task force will complement the law enforcement work of the Birmingham Public Safety Task Force, which was announced last month, in combined efforts to reduce violent crime in the Birmingham area, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town.
The Birmingham Safe Neighborhoods Task Force will engage law enforcement, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporate citizens in a coordinated and collaborative process to ensure parity in prevention, enforcement, and re-entry efforts. Building and restoring relationships between communities and law enforcement is a primary function of the task force.
“This task force will endeavor to meaningfully engage citizens of Birmingham with regard to how we can improve the station of the entire city,” Town said. “It is no longer enough just to prosecute our worst offenders. Prevention and outreach programs that decrease criminal activity and increase opportunity must accompany our overall crime reduction initiative,” he said. “I appreciate the leadership of our mayor, our sheriff, and all of our task force members for their willingness to engage in this worthy challenge.”
Members of the Birmingham Safe Neighborhoods Task Force will collaborate to develop and conduct community programs aimed at education, community-police relations and building opportunities that will benefit the entire community.
“As stated before, we are here for as long as it takes,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale. “I have no doubt this multifaceted initiative is going to have a very positive impact on crime in general, but most especially violent crime. Taking violent criminals out of these neighborhoods and locking them up for 15 or more years will return these neighborhoods back to the good folks and improve their quality of life dramatically. That is the goal. It will be met.”
Building and improving trust and communication between the community and members of law enforcement will be a critical function of the BSNTF, Town said. That will include encouraging patrol officers, deputies and agents to increase general and positive interactions in the community, whether that be helping to spruce up a community park or passing out free ice-cream coupons to neighborhood kids.
The two Birmingham task forces incorporate principles of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategy, and the National Public Safety Partnership. PSN is a nationwide Justice Department program committed to reducing gun and gang crime by networking existing local programs that target gun crime and supporting those efforts with training and funding.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced PSP last year as a training and technical assistance program designed to enhance the capacity of local jurisdictions to address violent crime in their communities. He selected Birmingham as one of the initial 12 locations to participate in the program. The PSP and PSN programs both reinforce the federal, state and local task force model as one of the most effective ways to reduce violent crime.